It’s Summer In South Carolina And Charleston Personal Injury Lawyers Want To Offer A Few Quick Safety Tips

Sadly, every year, about 700 Americans die in recreational boating accidents, and a majority of these fatal accidents occur in the summer months. Not surprising, because that’s the time most Americans are out on the water.

Now that the weather is warm and the kids are getting out of school, a lot of families in Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Beaufort or anywhere else in South Carolina are hitting the waterways for some summertime fun. But, our Charleston boating accident attorneys want to offer some safety tips in hopes of making this summer a safe one for all boaters and their families.

Everyone who has been around the water or on a boat has heard it before, “Life jackets save lives.” Staying afloat, much like wearing a seat belt, is the easiest, most simple way to prevent deaths on the water. According to the United States Coast Guard, 90 percent of drowning victims were not wearing a personal flotation device (PFD). Of the other ten percent of victims, many were not wearing a model of PFD designed to properly keep the head out of the water after the victim lost consciousness.

In terms of the law, having PFDs on your boat is good enough, it isn’t required to wear one, just that there is one onboard for each passenger. However, South Carolina law requires all children under 12 years of age to wear a U.S. Coast Guard–approved Type I, II, III, or V PFD while on a boat less than 16 feet long. The life jacket must be fastened and of the proper size for the child.

While it can be nice to be out on the water and enjoying your favorite Adult Beverage, the reality is 17 percent of all recreational boating fatalities are the direct of boating under the influence (BUI). In South Carolina boat operators can be cited for BUI if their blood-alcohol content is above .08, but boaters can be cited for BUI when deemed intoxicated by a field sobriety test with a blood alcohol-level between .05 and .08. It’s rare that a sober boat operator is involved in a serious boating accident, but there have been instances of drunk boaters crashing into bridges, jetties, and other boats.

It is also important to ensure you have a reliable means of communication while you’re out on the water, because cell phone reception can be spotty, cell phones can also get wet, and batteries can die. The most reliable communication device for boaters is a modern VHF marine radio, it is a near guarantee you’ll be able to contact rescuers and guide them to your location in the event of serious injuries or a boating accident on the water. All marine radios sold after 1999 have built-in digital selective calling (DSC), a button that automatically sends a mayday call with the boat’s name and location, but this radio MUST be properly registered for this feature to work, a step too many boaters forget. Despite the advancements in technology to assist boat’s in distress, filing a float plan is a MUST, especially for boaters going out on the water alone.

Finally, although the only requirement for South Carolina boat operators is to be above the age of 16, you can still hone your boating skills by participating in a safe-boating course. These courses are also great for youngsters to develop safe boating practices early in life. Not many boaters have had any sort of formal training, and when you know how to safely operate a boat, you can take the helm if the boat operator your with has had a few too many, or just being unsafe on the waterways.

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