HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — The U.S. Coast Guard said the best thing to do before setting out on the water is to make safety a priority. 

Tuesday’s boat crash on the Grand Strand has prompted talk of what boaters should know before they head out into open water. 

Commander John Brown of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary said that boats are required to have the adequate amount of life jackets for each passenger, fire extinguishers and rescue devices on board. He also said a marine radio is key. 

“Cell phones are great, but sometimes you get offshore and the cell phones don’t work anymore,” Brown said. “Marine radios are really a big safety item.”

Even with all of these safety precautions on the boat, Brown said that preparedness is important. 

He explained that the boat captain should have a rundown with the passengers so everyone is aware of the plan for the day. Brown said this would help passengers in the event that they become “suddenly in command.”

“If [the driver gets] sick or there’s a medical emergency of any sort, [the passengers] know what to do to get the boat back or they know who to call,” Brown said. 

As for what is causing most boat crashes, Brown said drivers and passengers are lacking situational awareness. 

“[Some people] are not paying attention,” Brown said. “It can cause a lot of trouble.”

Brown said the most common issue for boats is “running aground.” This is when a boat is driven in too shallow of water and it hits the bottom.

Brown recommends that anyone planning to operate or ride in a boat this summer take the South Carolina Department of Natural Resource’s boat safety class.

SCDNR also shared the following tips:

  • Practice good seamanship and take any necessary action to avoid a collision. 
  • Keep a sharp lookout at all times on the water. Failing to keep a proper lookout is the top cause of collisions on the water. 
  • Maintain a safe speed to allow for enough time to avoid a collision and be mindful of no-wake zones.