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Child on a boat wearing a life vest

Boating and Water Safety

While water skiing, boating and jet skiing are fun summer pastimes, they also put families at risk for traumatic injuries. To help prevent these injuries, you should:

  • Take a boater education course. More than 7 out of 10 boating incidents are caused by operator error. Boater education classes, such as SCDNR Boater Education or the Boat U.S. Foundation can help you learn to operate boats safely.
    • Wear a life vest. 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.
    • Don’t operate a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Alcohol can affect you more on the water than on land, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
    • Keep an eye on water skiers. When towing someone on water skis or a tube, use a wide-angle rearview mirror or have an observer constantly on watch.
    • Watch your speed. 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, people in the water, or anchored crafts. Avoid going over 50 mph when reaction times are shorter.
    • Avoid aggressive maneuvers. Operate defensively, do not follow others and avoid sharp turns.
    • Wear a safety lanyard. This lanyard should attach from the ignition safety switch to your wrist or personal flotation device. If you fall from the boat, the lanyard will pull the ignition safety switch and shut off the boat.

To schedule any of these programs, please call the Trauma Injury Prevention & Outreach Coordinator at 864-560-6839.

When operating a jet ski or personal watercraft:

  • Keep away from intake grate during operation. The intake grate, a vent at the back of the jet ski, sucks in water. Long hair or loose clothing can become entangled.
  • Do not quickly accelerate when anyone is behind you. Water and debris can cause severe injury.
  • Wear proper clothing. You must wear protective wetsuit bottoms, and it is recommended that riders also wear gloves, footwear and proper eyewear.
  • Do not jump water wakes or waves. Attempting to jump can cause your jet ski to flip.
  • Do not operate in the dark. Only operate jet skis from legal sunrise to legal sunset.

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