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Boating & Water Safety

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Water skiing, boating and riding personal watercraft (PWC) are popular pastimes enjoyed by many.

Spartanburg Medical Center’s Level 1 Trauma Center wants to help you remain safe this summer with boating and personal watercraft (PWC) safety messages to reduce the chances of severe injury or death. If you have family and friends who boat or ride personal watercraft, please share this information with them.

  • Take a boater education course. More than 7 out of 10 boating incidents are caused by operator error. Boater education classes are offered by local organizations and online.  Visit SCDNR Boater Education or BoatUS.org for courses that could prevent traumatic injury or death to someone you love.
  • South Carolina law requires that all children under 12 years of age must wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket if the watercraft is under 16 feet in length and when the motor is running.
  • Have all life jackets out and accessible whenever out on the lake.
  • Do not operate a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Alcohol can affect you up to three times more on the water than on land.
  • When towing a person(s) on water skis or similar devices, a wide-angle rearview mirror must be mounted, or an observer must be on board the vessel.
  • A safety lanyard from the ignition safety switch must be attached to your wrist or personal floatation device.
  • Regulations state that you can’t operate over idle speed if you’re less than 100 feet from a coastline or closer than 50 feet to wharfs, docks or piers, or people in the water or anchored crafts.
  • On PWC, do not release throttle when trying to steer; you need throttle to steer.
  • Keep away from intake grate as long hair or loose clothing can become entangled.
  • Do not apply throttle when anyone is at the rear of PWC as water and debris can cause severe injury.
  • Wear proper clothing when riding PWC; you must wear protective wet suit bottoms, and it is recommended that riders also wear gloves, footwear and proper eyewear.
  • Avoid aggressive maneuvers. Operate defensively, do not follow others and avoid sharp turns.
  • Do not jump wakes or waves.
  • Personal watercraft may operate only from legal sunrise to legal sunset.

Sources: SCDNR, Spartanburg Water, Boat Ed, Safe Kids

Although they are fun, watercraft can exceed speeds of 50 to 75 mph. At these speeds you have little time to react to situations 360 degrees around you. Five seconds could change your life forever.

Trauma Survivor Story

Hartell Family Suffers Tragedy on Water

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A Boating Safety course is available through the Internet at http://www.boat-ed.com/southcarolina.