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Summer months bring extra patrols to waterways

The Colleton County Sheriff’s Office is now working its additional summer patrols, which include increased monitoring of the county’s boat landings, rivers and Edisto Beach.
During the summer months, additional patrols go into effect by municipal agencies and by the Sheriff’s Office.
According to Shalane Lowes, spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office, all road patrol units with the Sheriff’s Office “routinely” drive through and assess all boat landings for safety.
In addition to these routine patrols, Edisto Beach has additional support from the Sheriff’s Office. “There are two deputies assigned to Edisto Beach, these officers “work jointly with Edisto Beach Police Officers to maintain control of all activities at Edisto Beach,” said Sheriff Strickland. “Edisto Beach also has an additional watercraft that they maintain.”
The Edisto Beach Town Police Department has its safety and water rescue watercraft and personnel, including the Sheriff’s Office having an assigned “watercraft” (boat) and several ATV’s in the area. This is to “access the sandy areas of the beach,” said Lowes.
Edisto Beach law enforcement leaders say the number of people who come to the beach is increasing each year substantially, creating a need for more traffic control, water rescues and waterway patrols and beach ordinance enforcement.
According to Strickland, the most common problems that law enforcement officers encounter during the summer months in Colleton County is excessive littering and underage drinking.
“These two crimes occur more frequently, along with Boating Under the Influence (BUI) citations,” he said. “The boat operator is required to be under .08-legal Blood Alcohol Level, the same law that applies to a person who operates a motor vehicle on the roadway.”
Boating Regulations
According to Lance Corporal Jones with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, all boating regulations along waterways are established by the U.S. Coast Guard. These laws are enforced by all federal, state and local law enforcement officers.
• SCDNR strongly encourages all citizens who are planning on going out on any type of vessel to formulate a “float plan,” said Jones. “This plan consists of advising a loved one or a friend of all the passengers’ names and medical information that will be on-board the vessel, the time you’re expected to leave, the location where you will be putting the vessel in the water, and what time you should be expected to return. If you have not returned by the advised time, this lets the individual know something is wrong and to contact authorities. This also assists authorities in locating all passengers’ on-board in the event of an emergency,” said Jones.
• All boats must have a Coast Guard approved wearable personal flotation device on board for each person. “This is the most important piece of life-saving equipment for boaters and passengers’ to possess,” said Jones. All flotation devices have a size and weight stipulation printed on the label. “These stipulations are of the utmost importance, these guidelines were established to make certain the flotation device is of proper fit to ensure the safety of the wearer,” said Jones.
• Current registration is required on the vessel while it is being operated. This includes a motor decal. If the vessel is a recent purchase, a bill of sale is required.
• All vessels are required by law to have a sound-producing device on-board, such as a whistle or a horn.
• If the boat is longer than 16-feet, Jones says a “Type IV” throw-able device is also required. “These are commonly referred to as a boat cushion, with lanyard straps that can be thrown to a person who is in distress in the water,” said Jones. “This is not a personal flotation device.”
• All boats that have a fuel tank affixed to the boat or the inboard tank are also required to have a fire extinguisher in working condition on board the boat.
By visiting www.dnr.sc.gov, you can find additional information regarding boating regulations. “We want to ensure everyone’s safety on the water, by enforcing these rules and regulations all locals and tourists will be able to have a safe and enjoyable summer,” said Strickland.

Heather Walters (1537 Posts)