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Editorial: Tragic wave of water deaths

  • Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Over the last few weeks, the pages of the Georgetown Times, Waccamaw Times and Inlet Outlook have all had too many stories about the tragic loss of life in our beautiful waters. Some of these deaths have been unavoidable, but others could have been prevented with simple precautions.

Among the simplest safety tips is use a lifejacket or Personal Flotation Device. That means wear it, don’t sit on it or keep it in a locker.

We recently had a story about Henry Paul of Andrews. At 77, Paul has kayaked on the Black River for more than 4,000 miles over the past three-plus years. He always leaves his float plan for the day and a journal on the dashboard of his truck.

Leaving a float plan with a family member or friend is always a good idea, whether you’re boating on a river or heading out for some offshore fishing.

Georgetown County and coastal South Carolina are blessed with many rivers and miles of beaches. Boating, fishing, swimming or tubing all call for sensible precautions.

Be with another person and swim or boat on a buddy system.

The YMCA in Georgetown County offers swimming lessons to youngsters through the school system. And other swimming lessons are available.

Learning how to swim is vital for anyone who enjoys the water.

Be aware of the weather forecast, watch for rip currents and make sure if you’re in the water that you’ve picked out a tall, visible landmark along the beach.

While you’re in the water, keep an eye on each other.

Years ago, two buddies were fishing in one of our local rivers. The boat capsized. One man couldn’t swim, but knew he should stay with the boat. His buddy was a good swimmer, joked that he just had his Saturday night bath a few hours early, then swam towards shore. He apparently got a cramp in one of his legs and went under water, less than 20 feet from the river bank.

Members of the Winyah Rescue Squad found his body downstream about six hours later.

Be confident, but also take sensible precautions.

At your local newspaper, we’d really like to avoid having to report on yet another drowning.

Enjoy the water, but be careful.

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