BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Berkeley County’s marine patrol will be working to ensure you stay safe while on the water over the holiday weekend.

Major Bobby Shuler said the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol is a 24/7 operation and will kick off the summer season this Memorial Day weekend. “Sheriff Lewis wants us out here enforcing the laws of the waterways, and also for everyone’s safety,” he said.

Marine Patrol has saved lives many times by already being on the water when an emergency happens.

“We’ve had incidents out here – we’ve had people come off jet skis, we’ve had some overturned boats. We’ve had some people have cardiac arrest issues,” he said.

To cut down on possible issues, authorities recommend you perform basic maintenance on your boat to ensure it’s working properly for the summer.

“Make sure you have a good cell phone and a way to keep that cell phone charged,” said Major Schuler. He also recommends telling a loved one about your float plan – where you put in and when you plan to be back.

And be sure to wear a life jacket anytime you are on the water. Sometimes there simply is not enough time to put one on during an emergency.

“Know that we’re here if you need us. This weekend, there will be a lot of other agencies working on the water as well. I know South Carolina DNR is going to be out. We’ve already spoken with them. The local fire departments that are out here on the waterways will be out here as well,” he said.

A new law went into effect last year that could help during a serious issue.

“If your boat is equipped with a lanyard, a kill switch lanyard, you are required to have that attached to whoever is operating that vessel, and if you have a vessel that has the footstep for the foot-style kill switch, that has to be operational as well,” he explained.

This means your boat will automatically stop if the driver is incapacitated.

“We want everybody to come out here and have fun, be safe, but be smart on the water.”

The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol will be on the water every weekend from now through Labor Day.