USCG: Have a plan this weekend when out on the water

USCG: Have a plan this weekend when out on the water
USCG will be out on the water Memorial Day Weekend (Source: Live 5)
USCG will be out on the water Memorial Day Weekend (Source: Live 5)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Marine law enforcement will be out in force on the water this weekend for Memorial Day Weekend, despite the unfavorable weather conditions.

The U.S. Coast Guard is urging boaters and others who plan to be on the water, to have a plan in place before you head out.

Lt. Commander Shannon Scaff, USCG, said there's no such thing as over-preparing.

"You want to make sure that have your life jackets, like we've heard before," Scaff said. "[You should] have a sound producing device, and light producing device at night, which is incredibly helpful to us if we have to search for you."

While you should have a plan every time you hit the water, the USCG is strongly urging you to let your family and friends know where you're going and what time you plan to come back.

"We've seen recent cases here in the Charleston area, and even down in Georgia, [that] is very important information for us when we go out and search," Scaff said. "The more that we know, going into a search, the better off we'll be, and the better your chances will be of being located."

In April the Coast Guard conducted a search and rescue mission for two kayakers who went missing near the Morris Island lighthouse.

Senior Chief Justin Longval, USCG, adds all boaters should consider investing in a personal locator beacon.

When activated, the small device will alert the USCG to your location if you're in distress.

Longval said it increases the likelihood of you being rescued faster.

"It will tell us exactly where you are when you have the device on you," he said. "Most times we don't get reports of missing people until maybe 24 hours after they went missing. This hinders our response time."

Longval added less than 10% of the boating population in the U.S. has this device. Most commercial boaters do have them.

The weather forecast for the weekend is also something the USCG wants the public to be aware of with the possibility of rain and wind.

"I'm concerned for Sunday really," said boater, Michael Bruner. "I don't know if it will happen, but I think the front of the front will get here Saturday evening."

"I do think they'll go out, because a lot of people have had plans to go out this weekend for a number of months," Longval said.

Several recreational boats were on the water Friday, kicking off the start to the holiday weekend.

"It's just a matter of being safe and being out here when you're least likely to run into trouble," said Kevin Blair, who charters boats.

"We definitely want people to look at the weather conditions," Scaff said. "Consider your experience level and that of the folks out on the water with you. Just take that in consideration. Maybe this weekend is not the best weekend to go."

A family heading out on the Charleston Harbor mentioned they do not plan on going out later this weekend because of the weather.

"[I've] been out there in it, and it's no fun," said Chris Stuart.

"Be aware of your surroundings," added Frank Seel.

Before pushing off into the water Scaff added you should check your equipment, make sure you have enough life jackets for everyone on your boat, and never boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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