Coast Guard prepares for Memorial Day weekend during National Safe Boating Week

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - It's going to be a busy weekend for both drivers and boaters.

The Coast Guard and the Department of Natural Resources are ready for the heavy traffic on the water.

"It's a little quiet right now, but with Memorial Day weekend coming up, I know this place will be bustling with vessel traffic and people getting out and underway out on the water," said Ensign Phillip VanderWeit with the U.S. Coast Guard. "The key is to really be prepared if you're going out on the water."

Last year over Memorial Day weekend, the Coast Guard responded to 24 search and rescue cases in Georgia and South Carolina. They also saved 30 lives and over $500,000 in property.

"We have nearly 400 cases a year for search and rescue," said VanderWeit.

The Department of Natural Resources responded to four boating accidents in Horry and Georgetown counties over Memorial Day weekend last year. The department issued 42 tickets and 182 warnings to boaters.

"Just like anything else you do in life, you want to protect your family and friends and make sure you're sober boating because that is safe boating," said VanderWeit.

He added it's also important that every boat have a life jacket for each person onboard. He says it's also important to have a phone so the Coast Guard can easily track boaters if they need help.

Letting someone know where you're going on the water and what time you'll be back is also helpful.

"I want to encourage folks to be safe on the water and have a good time. Know that we're there for you if you need help, but it really takes two sides to have a successful rescue in a search and rescue case," VanderWeit said. "That's why we ask folks to wear their life jacket and really do everything they can to not become a boating statistic."

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