Memorial Day often marks the unofficial first day of summer for boaters returning to Lake Murray.

As part of National Safe Boating Week, Dominion Energy is urging boaters who access Lake Murray and Lake Monticello to be careful while on the water.

“We need everyone to keep safety in mind as more people return to the lake,” said Billy Chastain, Dominion Energy South Carolina manager of lake management. “This is a good time to brush up on boating laws and safety guidelines to ensure everyone can return home at the end of each trip to the lake.”

Boat launch sites are open along both lakes. However, other recreation facilities, including picnic shelters, restrooms and public beaches, remain closed during the coronavirus pandemic. Beginning Wednesday, Dominion Energy will resume seasonal fees at the Irmo side of the Lake Murray dam during normal operating hours. Fees are $5 for all vehicles. Season passes can be purchased for $50 per vehicle.

Dominion Energy urges boaters to follow these tips from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources:

• Have the necessary safety equipment on board. This includes a Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device, such as a life jacket, for each person on the boat; a throwable personal flotation device is required on boats 16 feet or longer; a fire extinguisher, which is required on most boats but is a good idea for any vessel; efficient sound-producing device (horn or whistle).

• Wear a life jacket when on a personal watercraft or jet ski. All children under the age of 12 in a boat less than 16 feet in length also must wear a life jacket.

• Take a boating safety course. The courses are required for those under age 16 to operate a motorboat or personal watercraft (jet ski) with an engine 15 HP or greater, unless accompanied by an adult age 18 or older.

• Don’t drink alcohol while operating a boat. Use a designated driver just like you would in a motor vehicle.

• Check the local forecast before taking to the water. This will help you be prepared for impending weather conditions and avoid surprise storms on the water.

• Tell someone where you intend to go and when you plan to return. This could save your life should an accident occur on the lake.

• Use caution and stay alert on the water. Have one of your passengers act as “lookout” on the bow (front) of your boat to ensure full awareness.

For more information on boating safety, visit the SC Department of Natural Resources at dnr.sc.gov.