With the abundance of natural waterways in South Carolina, boating is a popular summer activity. While locals may have been enjoying the lack of crowds over the spring months, the summer tourism season means your favorite boating spot is likely to be more crowded. Unfortunately, an influx of less experienced boaters can result in an increase in boating accidents and personal injuries. Whether you are an experienced seafarer or a novice boater, the following tips can help ensure that both you and any passengers with you stay safe.
South Carolina Boating Regulations
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports that there are roughly 500,000 registered motorboats in the state, many of which get put into regular use during the summer months of June through August. With this many boaters, all with varying degrees of skill and experience, boating accidents are a common occurrence. Unfortunately, nearly 30 people lose their lives in boating accidents each year in the state, and the majority of these deaths are due to drowning.
DNR regulations require all personal watercraft to be equipped with a U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation device, or life vest, for the operator and each passenger, which must be kept readily available for use. Boaters under the age of 12 are required to wear a life vest at all times when on board to protect them in the event of an accident or being thrown from the vessel. Additional DNR boating requirements include:
- Fire extinguisher. Vessels less than 26 feet in length must have at least one Coast Guard approved, hand held fire extinguisher on board.
- Navigation lights. You are required to use navigational lighting between the hours of sunset and sunrise.
- These are required if navigating coastal waters.
- Bells, whistles, or horns. Vessels less than 65.6 feet are required to carry a bell, horn, or whistle to alert other boaters to their intentions and changes in position.
In addition to these requirements, it is a good idea to keep a well-stocked first aid kit onboard in the event of injuries, as well as a fully charged cell phone in the event you need to call for help.
Preventing Boating Accidents and Injuries
To prevent serious and potentially fatal boating accidents, the U.S. Coast Guard offers a mobile boating safety application for your cell phone, which offers safety tips as well as instructions on what to do in the event an accident occurs. To help prevent an accident and to reduce the likelihood of injuries, they advise the following:
- Take a boater safety course. Operator error accounts for 70 percent of all boating accidents.
- Conduct a vessel safety check before venturing out.
- File a navigational plan, so searchers know where to look for you if you get lost.
- Avoid alcohol, which can inhibit judgement, reduce reaction times, and make accidents more likely to occur.
Been In An Accident? Get Help Today
If you suffer injuries as the result of a boating accident, call or contact our personal injury attorneys online to request a free consultation. At the Anastopoulo Law Firm, we can advise you on how to file a claim against those responsible for your injuries, so you can get the compensation you deserve.