In the Lowcountry, law enforcement agencies like the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) predict the waterways will remain packed-out with boaters over the holiday weekend. Officers will be out in force for the weekend, especially on the night of July 4, as people head-out to see the fireworks shows over the water.
“One of the biggest things we see is life jackets, they have to be the proper size you know, so a child can’t be wearing an adult life jacket,” says 1SG Earl Pope.
Pope is one of a fleet of officers who will keep busy off of Lemon Island.
“If an incident occurs, then the captain of the boat is responsible for everybody on their boat. So, he needs to know where all his safety equipment is at and is readily accessible so he can get to it in case of an emergency,” Pope says.
There are penalties up to $470 for not having enough life jackets on board. Other important life-saving equipment is also required under South Carolina law.
“You have to have a fire extinguisher on board, registration card, a horn, bell or whistle, and also a type four throwable if your boat is over 16 feet,” he says.
As the sun sets and fireworks shows get underway, Pope hopes boaters have plans in place if consuming alcohol.
“We ask people to have a designated driver for their boat, as well as when they get in their car to go home,” he says.
Boat operators cannot be under the influence, by the same blood alcohol level as in operating a vehicle, .08. Pope will be out until the last boat returns in to the landing.
“I just caution people, take your time, be careful, be courteous of other people at the boat ramp, and make sure your lights are working so we don’t have any incidents tonight,” he says.