Keeping You Safe: Recreational boating safety tips

“A PFD will keep you afloat but a float plan will save your life”
Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 11:24 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Labor Day weekend is over but the boating season is not.

Myrtle Beach Ocean Rescue Battalion Chief Brian Mitchell sailed through some safety tips, and it starts with taking a boating education course and downloading a float plan from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Website.

RELATED LINK | South Carolina Department of Natural Resource Float Plan Form

“You want to fill it out and give it to a responsible party that remains on land,” said Mitchell.

The form will ask questions that include the type of boat, the number of people on board, the time and location of your launch site and the route. The plan will also estimate the time of your return. Mitchell said it’s imperative to notify that person with the plan that you’ve finished your trip.

“Think of it as a PFD will keep you afloat but a float plan will save your life,” he said. “If we got to come out and look for you or different agencies have to come out and search for you, at least they’ll have an idea of where you were and what time you were there.”

Mitchell also explained that all boaters should wear Coast Guard-approved life jackets and showed the different sizes for kids and adults. If you don’t have one, there are some boat landings that have a life jacket loaner station.

“That way if something were to happen or the boat were to start sinking, that everyone has a personal floatation device,” Mitchell said.

Once you’re on the boat, Mitchell rattled off a list of things you need to check before taking off.

“Make sure that your boat trailer and your boat lights are working. Of course, you want to have fuel on your boat for your trip. Make sure your batteries are charged on your boat as well as your cell phone.”

If you lose cell service, it’s a good idea to have a VHF radio handy. Mitchell said you can use it to call the Coast Guard on channel 16 for help. Also, he stressed to check the weather conditions before going out on the water.

“Keep an eye on the sky and when in doubt, you need to come back in,” said Mitchell.

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