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Kicking Off National Safe Boating Week

With warmer weather and boating season in full swing, the National Safe Boating Week will be May 20th-26th this year. This week is observed to help promote safe boating. First Sergeant Andrew Godowns with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources wants to encourage all boaters to remember these rules before and during any boating trip you may be taking:
Before you Leave
• Fill out a boating float plan and make sure you leave the plans with a responsible individual.
• Check the weather.
• Let someone know where you are going.
• Gather all lifesaving devices (Personal Flotation Devices). Make sure they are in good serviceable condition and are the correct size and fit for all passengers (especially children). A properly fitted life jacket is not only more comfortable but it functions better as well. Life jackets that are too small or too large can ride up when you’re in the water – or even come off.
• Check the fuel and the battery charge.
• Make sure all lights are in good working condition on the boat and boat trailer.
• Make sure the fire extinguisher is readily accessible and in good serviceable condition.
• Connect the trailer’s safety chains to the towing vehicle.
• Carry a cell phone if possible.
On the Water
• Know the aids to navigation and buoy system in your areas and obey all the rules of the water.
• Don’t operate the boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
• When operating sailboats, be aware of overhead power lines and wires.
• If someone falls overboard, throw something to them that will float (Personal Floatation Device (PFD), raft, or cooler).
• All boats approaching from the right have the right of way.
• Always anchor from the bow of the boat and pull the anchor before leaving.
• If caught in a storm, head into the wind, put on PFD’s and keep passengers low in the boat.
• Take a Boating Safety Course by calling 1-800-277-4301.
• Call Operation Game Thief (1-800-922-5431) to report boating, fishing or hunting violations.

These simple rules are all safety precautions that Sgt. Godowns with SCDNR wants boaters to use while enjoying their time on the water. “Remember that Personal Flotation Devices (PFD’s, life jackets, life preservers and life vests) are the most important piece of equipment on a boat,” according to Sgt. Godowns, “because they are the best defense against drowning and each year, on average, 700 people die in boating-related accidents nationwide.” There are specific rules for the number of personal flotation devices that a boat must carry, “Boaters should note that all boats must have a U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable (Type I,II,III, or V) life jacket on board for each person and remember when you’re boating to be respectful of others,” according to Sgt. Godowns. Know the rules before you decide to boat this summer, “Practice good seamanship, keep a proper look out and maintain a safe speed,” Sgt. Godowns said.

Amye Stivender (199 Posts)