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Essential Boat Safety Tips You Can’t Ignore

Updated: Apr 12, 2022

Safety on boats and around lakes is paramount—it literally saves lives. Whether you’re a boat owner or planning to rent on Lake Hartwell, this article will give you some helpful tips to keep yourself and all those on the boat with you safe. Because of its size and accessibility, Lake Hartwell hosts many water sports including jet-skiing, sailing, fishing, kayaking, and more. That means there are a whole lot of people out on the lake at the same time. While all these lake activities are fun, they can also be dangerous. In 2018, Lake Hartwell was labeled the deadliest lake in the upstate region of South Carolina—by far. There have been 111 deaths at the lake since 1993. Sadly, each and every one of these deaths had at least one preventable cause.

Girls wearing life jackets stay safe while boating on lake hartwell

Have fun and stay safe on Lake Hartwell

Boat Safety Precautions to Take

Dangerous situations can’t all be accounted for. A disaster can pop up in just seconds unexpectedly. That’s why the most important thing to do on a boat is to take measures beforehand to mitigate injury and prevent death.

Here are some things to do before going on the lake:

  1. Don’t overload your boat – make sure to stick with manufacturing guidelines and stay within the weight and passenger limits of the watercraft.

  2. Always wear a life jacket – this best practice applies to both children and adults, however, it is vital that children under 13 wear a personal flotation device at all times.

  3. Don’t forget to protect your skin from the sun – use sunblock, hats, and sun-protective clothing to prevent sunburns

  4. Avoid alcohol – drinking alcohol is perhaps the most deadly thing you can do around water. It both dehydrates you and dulls your sense. Instead, reach for water and save the booze until you are safely back on solid ground.

  5. Take a boating education class

  6. Use this website, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, to find boating classes.

  7. For South Carolina, use this website.

  8. Have a plan for if you fall out of the boat – this is especially crucial if you are going out by yourself.

  9. Tell people who aren’t going on the trip where you’re going and for how long

  10. Check all electronics on the boat, including VHF radio, GPS

  11. Check the weather and dress accordingly

  12. Know the water conditions

  13. Have a general knowledge of where you’re going via google or local map – this includes information about recreational beaches where people might be swimming

  14. Make sure the hookups to the trailer are correct and working well

  15. Carry a compass and a map

  16. Don’t exit or enter the boat while the engine is running

Boy wearing lifejacket jumps off pontoon into lake hartwell

For safety, children should always wear a lifejacket when swimming.

Recommended boating safety kit supplies

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Use caution when swimming in the lake

The water can be very cold even if the sun makes you feel hot. This is especially true with children and babies who are more susceptible to hypothermia. If you do opt to swim, make sure your child wears a flotation device at all times. For those who don’t own one, loaner life jackets for children can be requested from these companies:

  1. Hartwell Marina in Hartwell, GA – (706) 376-5441

  2. Portman Marina in Anderson, SC – (864) 287-3211

  3. Big Water Marina in Starr, SC – (864) 226-3339

  4. Harbor Light Marina in Lavonia, GA – (706) 356-4119

  5. Clemson Marina in Seneca, SC – (864) 653-6767

Cute dachshund wearing a lifejacket on a boat

Don’t forget to provide lifejackets to protect pets on the lake.

Safety Tips To Practice While Boating

There are some things you should be doing while you’re out on the lake to make sure everyone stays safe. Lake Hartwell is huge – it gets around 10 million visitors annually and has 56,000 acres of water.

This means there are many other people out in the waters, and it’s easy to get lost.

Things to think about while you’re boating include:

  1. Remember the buoy number you’re near when possible

  2. If fog is starting to form, be extra careful

  3. Have an extra person to watch out for other boats and obstacles

  4. Obey a 50 feet rule while on any kind of boat: stay 50 feet away from any and all other vehicles

  5. Be smart about how fast you’re going

  6. Stay far away from swimming spots – not only does this help prevent a potentially tragic accident, but these areas are typically more shallow and don’t make a great boating area anyway.

  7. Constantly scan the water for swimmers – Lake Hartwell doesn’t have designated spots for swimming or lifeguards on hand. Be alert and careful.

  8. Maintain fresh air circulation throughout the boat, as carbon monoxide can build-up

  9. The driver should wear the engine cut-off switch lanyard at all times

As you know, boating can be a thrilling and fulfilling experience—don’t let that experience be ruined by a tragedy. Follow these boating tips to help keep everyone on Lake Hartwell safe.

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