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Tips for Having a Safe Summer on the Water

Chapin, SC (06/03/2021) – With boating season now in full swing, the Lake Murray Coast Guard Auxiliary urges boat owners and operators to “Get a vessel safety check, take a boating safety class, and always wear your life jacket.”

First, what is a vessel safety check? Trained examiners will check that all safety equipment, from life jackets and fire extinguishers to navigation lights, are in good condition and properly stowed. All required equipment must meet U. S. Coast Guard standards and be in proper working order. Every recreational boat less than 65 feet, including personal watercraft and even paddle craft, should get an annual vessel safety check to ensure that the vessel and onboard safety equipment meets legal requirements. Vessel safety checks are free, without penalty, typically take just 15 minutes, and are performed by qualified examiners. Boats need not be in the water for a safety check, and a vessel examiner will meet at a time and location of mutual convenience.

If the vessel is in reasonably good condition and in compliance with all applicable regulations, a vessel safety check decal will be issued, which is good for the current calendar year. No penalties, enforcement actions or reports are made if a vessel fails a safety check. To request a complementary vessel safety check, visit and click on “Get a Vessel Safety Check” from the menu options.

Second, boater education is necessary to reduce loss of life, personal injury and property damage while increasing boating enjoyment for outdoor enthusiasts. To aid in this, the Lake Murray Coast Guard Auxiliary is offering a free, instructor-led boater education course for anyone who wants to learn about the fundamentals of safe and responsible boating. This course will be held virtually using Zoom over three consecutive evenings on June 21, 22 and 23 from 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. To register and receive the Zoom meeting invitation, go to Students who successfully complete the entire course will earn the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Boater Education card.

Third, life jackets save lives. Accidents on the water can happen in an instant, much too fast to reach for and put on a stowed life jacket. The Coast Guard estimates that life jackets, if properly worn, could prevent nearly 86 percent of boating fatalities each year. New life jackets are much more comfortable, lightweight and stylish than the bulky orange style most boaters know, allowing more mobility and flexibility, and are much cooler in warmer weather.

Children under 13 years old are required to wear an appropriately fitting, Coast Guard approved Type II life jacket when boating. Parents should pick the child up by grasping the shoulders of the life jacket; if it fits properly, the child’s chin and ears will not slip through. A child’s life jacket should be tested in the water immediately after purchase. Children may panic when they fall into the water suddenly. Float testing not only checks the fit and buoyancy, but it also provides an important opportunity to teach children to relax in the water.

By following these important tips, you will limit your risk to avoidable accidents and enhance your overall boating experience. Have fun on the water!


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