Many South Carolina residents and visitors celebrate the Fourth of July holiday by spending time with family and friends on the state’s rivers, lakes and coast. The increase in recreational boating activity around the 4th often brings a surge in boating accidents.
The Coast Guard reported 4,515 recreational boating accidents nationwide in 2012, causing 651 deaths and 3,000 injuries. Ten to 30 people die each year in South Carolina in recreational boating fatalities, according to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. Some of the accidents involve boater recklessness and many of the deaths and serious injuries are preventable.
Among all recreational boating deaths in 2012, 71 percent were due to drowning, according to the Coast Guard. About 85 percent of drowning victims were not wearing life jackets. If you are boating this summer, make sure everyone has a life jacket before heading out on the water.
It is a mistake to drink alcoholic beverages while boating. The likelihood of being in a boating accident doubles when alcohol is involved. Studies have shown that sun and wind can increase alcohol impairment.
You might think hypothermia is not a risk in warmer waters. But a few hours in water temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees can cause hypothermic conditions such as exhaustion and unconsciousness. So be alert and don’t put yourself in a dangerous situation.
In addition, always check local weather forecasts. If the clouds darken, the wind grows rough or the temperature drops suddenly, it’s a good idea to stay off the water.
Finally, both beginner and experienced boaters can benefit from a boat safety course. It’s important to understand boating rules and the steps to take in a life-threatening situation. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources offers boater education courses for all skill levels. The operator of a boat involved in a boating accident must assist anyone injured or in danger from the accident and provide his or her name or address and vessel identification to anyone injured.
Need Legal Help?
A boating tragedy can take place in a matter of seconds. If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a boating accident in South Carolina, contact our South Carolina personal injury attorneys at Joye Law Firm. We represent people who have suffered serious injuries and family members of wrongful death victims in boating accidents.