COVID-19 is not the only summer safety issue

Most people are all too aware folks have been spending more time at home since March and the lockdown due to the COVID-19 virus.

With extra time for family and relaxation, as well as working from home, folks have looked for many ways to entertain ourselves and our family. As the temperatures have increased, so has the interest in outdoor activities, such as boating and swimming. Unfortunately, there has been an increase in alcohol sales to go with the increase in boating.

Drinking and driving is not safe, and most are usually aware of the sobriety of the person driving a car we are riding in. Is that always true with boating? Probably not. You are out on the lake, enjoying the scenery and fun, drinking a few beers. Did you know that alcohol is a diuretic? So, you drink more beer and the alcohol content of your blood may rise quicker than you realize. Boating under the influence (BUI) while driving a boat is also illegal for the same reason it is illegal in automobiles – it increases accidents, injuries and even loss of life. In addition, if a person is drinking while operating a boat, other safety measures are more likely to ignored, such as wearing a life jacket or maintaining a good lookout for other boaters and swimmers in the water.

So far this year on Lake Murray, there have been several accidents and two fatalities. The first was a woman who was a passenger on a pontoon when it ran into a tree on the bank. She died on the scene when the tree fell and hit her, causing blunt force trauma. The second fatality was a fisherman who died of natural causes while fishing alone. When he fell out of the boat without a life jacket, his body did not stay afloat. The search and rescue took several hours before his body was eventually discovered.

Safety should be the number one priority when on the water. Accidents happen too quickly and there is no do over when someone is injured or killed. The Lake Murray Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 12-3 is available to perform free vessel safety checks at your location, go over safe boating practices and show you the free Coast Guard app for your mobile device in case you do have a problem. Contact John Bradley at jbradleycgaux@gmail.com for more information and visit website www.uscgaux-lakemurray.com.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed civilian component of the U.S. Coast Guard and supports the Coast Guard in nearly all mission areas. The Auxiliary was created by Congress in 1939. For more information, visit www.cgaux.org.