INMAN, S.C. (WSPA) – With over 1,000 miles of combined shoreline around our area lakes, we have plenty of opportunities for fun on the water. For many, that does not stop in the winter months. 

While there are safety rules you should follow any time of year, there are some things you should pay attention to before you head out on the lake in the winter.

Jon Morgan, the Chief Lake Warden on Lake Bowen in Inman, has a few tips on what boaters need to do.

“Number one, they should always check the weather, and dress appropriately to the weather. They should dress in layers. The first layer should be moisture-wicking to keep the moisture away from the skin and help keep the body warm,” he explained.  

Don’t forget waterproof gloves, and some headgear.  Most of a body’s heat loss comes from the head. 

Also, you should have a dry change of clothes in case you end up in the water. Lake temperatures may be as warm as 80 degrees in summer but could be in the 30s in winter. Dry clothes can help you avoid hypothermia.

In addition to outfitting for the elements, there are some other safety rules you should keep in mind.

“Most importantly, you should always wear your life jacket the entire time you’re out on the water,” Morgan said. 

And at anytime of year, there should always be enough lifejackets for everyone on the boat. 

Cold snaps can bring ice on the water, especially in shallower coves. Stay away from that. 

“You need to let someone know where you’re going and what time you are going to be back. In case something happens, they’ll know where to look for you at,” Morgan said. 

You should make sure there’s food and water aboard as well. You’ll burn more calories in the colder air, and you’ll need to stay hydrated. 

Don’t forget about the boat! Make sure it has received a winter check-up, as you should do with your car.

Whether fishing or floating, a little preparation can ensure comfort and safety.