ANDERSON COUNTY, SC (WSPA)–As you prepare to hit the water this fourth of July weekend, boat safety should be top of mind.
The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary said there are certain things you should remember before you head out on the water. They ask everyone to wear a life jacket, have a thrower on board, and know your way around the boat.
The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary said roughly 98% of all drownings on the water are the result of people not wearing a life jacket. They want you to zip-up, and have a safety plan before taking off.
“By all means, check the buckles. Check the fasteners. And each person on that vessel needs to be assigned a preserver that fits,” said Commander Steve Siske, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary at Lake Hartwell.
“The biggest thing is if it doesn’t fit, it’s not going to work,” Commander Siske said.
Before sailing away, a quick boat check is recommended to ensure you have things like fire extinguishers, working horns, and lights.
“Here’s the kill switch. It’s extremely important,” said Larry Cole, Vice Commander, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary at Lake Hartwell. “So if I go over, the motor stops.”
Once you’re on the water, everyone should stay completely inside the boat.
“With your feet in the water, of course anything can happen. Your feet get hung, you go under the boat,” said T. Jay Harlos, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla Staff Officer. “Maintaining inside the vessel is always a best practice.”
Coast Guard members ask you not to drink and boat, and remember traffic safety too.
“Stay 100 feet from that other vessel, and please, observe courteous on the water.” Cole said.
“When you’re passing somebody, you should blow your horn, let them know you’re passing. Don’t just go flying by,” Cole added.
They also said you must keep COVID-19 top of mind.
“Anything to keep this pandemic down is going to be a big factor this year,” Harlos said.
The U.S. Coast Guard wants you to remember social distancing while out on the boats. They also said it’s important to wear a mask, and be safe at all times.
The Coast Guard Auxiliary said only a maximum of three people can be on a boat, under COVID-19 guidelines. They also provide free boat safety checks to the public.