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Summer Safety: Tips to Avoid Boating Accidents on Lake Murray

A serene view of a wooden pier extending over the calm waters of Lake Murray in South Carolina. The sun is setting on the horizon, casting a warm golden glow over the lake and reflecting beautifully on the water's surface.

Summer is in full swing, and that means it’s boating season in South Carolina. A day out on the boat is a great way to have fun with family and friends, but out on the water, there’s always the risk of injury. Boat owners, operators, and passengers alike need to put safety first, and swimmers and other lake users likewise need to stay safe around boats.

Enjoy the summer, but put safety first

Follow these tips from the Lake Murray Association to stay safe on the water all summer long. Remember, though, that you can only control yourself, and it only takes one negligent boater to change someone’s life. Our law firm proudly stands up for people injured in boating accidents on Lake Murray and throughout South Carolina.

Work as a team to ensure safety

  • Never go out on the lake alone. Circumstances can change swiftly out on the water, and it’s important to have a second set of eyes and hands if there’s ever a problem. Make sure you have a buddy at all times. If you do break away from a group, let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
  • While on a boat, have a spotter. No matter how many people are on your boat, it’s easy to get caught up in socializing to the point where everyone assumes someone else is watching the lake. Make sure you have an expressly designated “spotter” or two who can look out for other people on the water and any approaching hazards.
  • Use hand signals to communicate. When a motorboat is in operation, it’s not always easy to hear. Agree on hand signals to communicate non-verbally when necessary. This is especially important when pulling someone on a tube or water skis.
  • Take extra precautions with children. When you have kids on a boat, it’s every adult’s responsibility to keep an eye on them and make sure they’re safe.

Stay awake, alert, and able to respond

  • Always boat sober. Boating under the influence is just as dangerous as driving under the influence. If you are impaired by alcohol, drugs, or prescription medication (remember, “don’t drive or operate machinery” includes boats), stay on shore.
  • Don’t operate a boat while fatigued. Operating a boat when you’ve gone an extended period of time without sleep can be just as dangerous as driving drunk.
  • Stay hydrated. When you’re out on the lake on a hot day, it’s easy to lose a lot of water very quickly. Staying hydrated is not only important for your health but also for your and others’ safety: symptoms of dehydration like leg cramps and dizziness can impact your ability to safely operate a boat.

Use safety gear

  • Wear your life jackets. Even if you’re confident in your swimming abilities, it’s important to wear a life jacket while out on the water. Dangerous situations can happen at any time, and 86% of drowning victims in recreational boating accidents weren’t wearing a life jacket.
  • Know your boat’s safety and navigational features. Make sure you’re fully familiar with your boat’s features before you go out on the water. In particular, make sure the boat meets the watercraft lighting rules, even during the day – you never know when unexpected rain or fog could roll in.
  • Have charged communication devices. If there is an unexpected emergency, make sure you have charged phones and other communication devices so you can quickly call for help.

Know the rules and put safety first

  • Take a boat safety course. Even if you’re an experienced boater, you can benefit from a safety refresher. Make sure everyone in your party has some safety training so they all know what to do in case of an unexpected hazard.
  • Know the law and follow the rules. Just like you need to obey traffic signs and signals and drive defensively on land, you need to be a cautious and defensive operator on the water. The rules exist to ensure boaters can operate in the same area safely, and they only work if everyone follows them.
  • Watch the weather and avoid unsafe situations. If it looks like a thunderstorm or other dangerous weather system is brewing, head back to shore right away.

If you’ve been hurt, our law firm can help

Again, no matter how safe you are out on the water, it only takes one negligent boater to cause a serious or fatal accident. When that happens, we fight to hold them accountable. Our law firm has a strong reputation and track record in high-stakes injury cases, including a $100,000 settlement in a boating accident case. And boat accidents are incredibly personal to us: we lost our sister because of a negligent boater on Lake Murray.

If you’ve been injured on the water on Lake Murray or anywhere in South Carolina, our attorneys will listen to your story and explain your legal rights. Give us a call or contact us online for a free consultation with Johnson + Johnson Attorneys at Law.

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