A boating accident last Thursday on Shem Creek that sent two men to the hospital with head injuries after their boats collided highlights the need to take precautions while on the water and follow all the guidelines for safe boating.

It was unclear what caused the boats to collide at the mouth of Shem Creek on the afternoon of Oct. 2, according to a report from WCSC Live 5 News. The U.S. Coast Guard responded to the accident after it was reported by another boater.

After the Coast Guard took the injured men to Magwood dock, local emergency medical services transported them to the Medical University of South Carolina for treatment, WCSC reported.

The Department of Natural Resources was investigating the cause of the accident, and the involved boats were taken to Wando dock, according to an article in the Charleston Post and Courier.

Avoiding Collisions On the Water

While the cause of last week’s boating accident remains under investigation, there are steps boaters can take to avoid injuries on the water. The U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Resource Center and other websites, such as the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s site DiscoverBoating.com, offer a number of tips for boating safety. They include:

  1. Take a boating course. Taking a class on safe boating, whether in person or online, will help you become familiar with boating safety rules and ready to handle situations that may arise while out on the water.
  2. Use common sense. Stay alert and operate the boat at a safe speed, especially in crowded waters. Keep a proper lookout for other vessels. Be sure to follow buoys and other navigational aids.
  3. Wear lifejackets and use them properly. It seems simple, but according to DiscoverBoating.com, the majority of drowning victims are boaters who were not wearing lifejackets. Every person on the boat should wear a lifejacket and make sure it fits
  4. Follow a checklist before departing. Following a pre-departure checklist such as the one from Discover Boating helps make sure you are prepared for anything that might happen while out on the water.
  5. Check the weather before setting out on the boat. Consult the local forecast before going out. If you notice dark clouds, rough and changing winds or sudden drops in temperature, take the boat in.
  6. Don’t drink alcohol. Much like driving, alcohol and boating do not mix. It impairs judgment and reaction time, and sun and wind can increase the effects of alcohol.
  7. Develop a float plan. Make sure someone on land knows where you are going and how long you will be gone. The float plan can also include names and contact information of those on board, boat type and registration information, itinerary and the boat’s communications and signal equipment.
  8. Designate an assistant skipper. More than one person on the boat should be familiar with the boat and how it operates just in case the primary skipper is injured or otherwise incapacitated.
  9. Make sure you and your passengers know how to swim. It’s important that everyone going out on a boat knows how to swim.
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