Officials urging boater safety, awareness

Charleston County News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – After first responders rescued a missing boater who had been treading water for two hours on Sunday night, officials and members of the boating community are reminding the public to be vigilant with safety measures.

Dr. Valerie Scott with Roper St. Francis Hospital said that the proper equipment is essential, noting that life jackets are important, even for adults that know how to swim:

“If you fall off, what if you hit your head and you’re out, you’re unconscious for a moment? If you have a life jacket, that will save your life.”

John Seibels, who has been boating in Charleston his whole life and recently purchased his own sailboat, added that ensuring gear is functional could be the difference between a life and death situation:

“If you have a life jacket but the buckle doesn’t work, it’s not going to do you much good.”

Dr. Scott said that weather, even good, can play a big role. She said that hot weather can cause dehydration, and alcohol can catalyze that process. She recommends drinking water before and during the boating trip.

Seibels is a big advocate of float plans, suggesting that boaters know “what time you’re going to leave, where you’re going to leave from…what activities you might be doing and where…And then letting someone else know when you plan to return.”

This way, if something happens, the contact on land can alert authorities if the boater does not return.

While preparing ahead of time is a huge component of boating safety, Seibels says that remaining aware is just as important:

“There’s hidden shallow spots and danger markers, rocks and things that you can run into. You want to be aware of those things and have a good understanding, [and] a good GPS.”

For easy access to boating safety tips, authorities suggest downloading the Coast Guard app.

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