With Memorial Day Weekend right around the corner, the SCDNR would like to remind boaters of the personal floatation device (PFD) regulations. Some boaters, like youth under the age of 12, and anyone operating a personal watercraft, are required to wear their PFDs. Others only need to have them onboard.

Should the law mandate that everyone on a boat be required to wear a PFD?

The upcoming Memorial Day holiday kicks off the boating season in South Carolina. Many people will take to our lakes and rivers for a weekend of fun and relaxation. Unfortunately, the weekend could end in tragedy for some.

Last year, 19 people died on South Carolina's waters in boating-related accidents. Drowning was the cause of death in 74 percent of these. While wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) will not prevent a boating accident, it will give you a much better chance of surviving if you end up in the water as the result of one.

All vessels must have at least one Type I, II, III or V PFD (life jacket) that is Coast Guard approved, wearable, and of the proper size for each person on board or being towed. All children, under 12 years of age, are required to wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved Type I,II,III or V PFD while on board a Class A (less than 16 feet long) vessel. Each person riding on a personal watercraft (PWC) must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type I ,II, III or V PFD. Life jackets can save lives, but only if you use them.

Let's all do our part to keep our waterways safe this summer. Find out more about these and other safety rules by taking a free boater education course. Click here to find DNR boater education course listings.