MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) officials say Memorial Day is the first big boating weekend in the Lowcountry and they wanted to conduct courtesy inspections to make sure people have fun, but remain safe, during the holiday.

SCDNR is trying to keep boaters across the Lowcountry safe for Memorial Day.

“Basically what we do the courtesy boat inspections for is to check safety equipment on boats,” SCDNR Sgt. Jim Shelton said. “The main goal is to keep people safe on these big holiday weekends.”

Inspections are not required, but SCDNR encourages it, so boaters stay safe and avoid potential citations out on the water.

“We can tell them,” SCDNR Staff Sgt. Rusty Monnet said, “you know, if you’re short something, you can go back to a store and pick it up, or run back to the house. And that way, all their safety equipment is onboard at the time they need it.”

So, what exactly do they check for?

“You have to have the registration card for the vessel,” Monnet said. “You have to have a wearable life jacket that fits for all persons onboard. You have to have a Type IV throwable device on anything 16-feet or larger. You have to have a fire extinguisher for anything that’s got inboard fuel. The last thing is a bell, horn or whistle.”

And the inspection doesn’t take long.

“Typically takes probably five minutes of your time,” SCDNR Lance Cpl. Burt Looper said. “It’s quick and easy.”

Doug Harless says it was important to have his boat inspected before his family hit the water for the holiday.

“Wanted to have it inspected just to make sure everything’s right before I got on the water,” Harless said. “Just for more or less safety issues.”

He believes boat inspections keep everyone safe.

“I think you get your boat inspected to make sure you have what you need,” Harless said, “not only for your safety, but for the safety of others on the water.”

SCDNR officials, with a final, important, safety message for boaters.

“Operators drink water,” Monnet said. “Don’t consume alcohol. That’s typically the biggest contributor to fatalities on the water. Everybody else can have a large time, but the operator of the vessel needs to stay sober.”

SCDNR officials say while boating is fun, it is serious, and they encourage everyone to be extra cautious when out on the water during the holiday.