Coast Guard kicks off safe boating week with open house, water safety advice

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Coast Guard sector Charleston held an open house to kick off National Safe Boating Week.

It was an opportunity for the people in the community to not only learn about the Coast Guard's rescue efforts, but also a time to learn about water safety.

The Sector Commander, Capt. Gary Tomasulo says there are about 400 Coast Guard search and rescue operations a year between South Carolina and Georgia. He is the commander for both states.

"Our job is to make sure they enjoy the water in a safe manner," Tomasulo said.

Before you set sail you need to put safety first. That could start with wearing a life vest.

"Eighty percent of fatalities that occur on the water is because of someone not wearing a life jacket," Tomasulo said.

Boaters are required to have a life jacket on board for each person on a boat

Boaters also need a float plan that includes your departure location, where you plan to go and when you will be back. Leave it with someone you know that won't be on the boat.

"What that does for the Coast Guard, is if you're late that family member will call the Coast Guard and it gives us the ability to respond sooner," Tomasulo said. "When you have a distress on the water, minutes are critical let alone hours."

There are also devices like an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon or a Personal Location Beacon that can signal for help

"If you go in the water with a PLB or an EPIRB, if your vessel sinks, it sends a transmission to a satellite and lets the Coast Guard know that you're in distress," Tomasulo said.

There was a boating incident that happened last year near Folly Beach where the Coast Guard credited a device like this for helping them perform a quick rescue.

You can also take a boating safety course and get boat inspections through the Coast Guard and other organizations.

Brothers Joseph, 11, and Benjamin Tolley, 9, came by the open house. They were excited to learn more.

"I think it's awesome and I would like to be in the Coast Guard when I grow up," Joseph said.

Tomasulo says he wants to remind people to act in a responsible manner while enjoying time on the water in Charleston.

You can also download the free Coast Guard App that will give you more information on boating safety. You can also file a float plan through the app, look at a guide of boating rules, request a safety check and more.

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