COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Several recent boating deaths are a sobering reminder of the dangers that can turn a day of recreation deadly.
Last weekend alone, two men died in separate incidents in Lexington and Sumter Counties.
Officials say strong winds likely played a factor in both incidents, causing rough and choppy waters.
And just days later, two men in Fairfield County drowned after their paddle boat capsized.
We are nearing the summer season, a time when the temperatures rise, the sun shines bright and many more people hit the water.
It's also an opportunity to issue a word of caution.
According to the Department Of Natural Resources, in 2014, 15 people lost their lives in boating related accidents in South Carolina.
Drowning was the cause of death in more than half of those incidents.
While wearing a life jacket won't prevent an accident, it can certainly increase your chances of survival.
And even the most experienced boaters need to check the forecast before heading out because we all know conditions can change in an instant.
While your first instinct may be to get to shore, experts say the best advice is to always stay with your boat.
"Stay with the boat, have your life jacket on," Lexington County marine deputy Troy Livingston said. "Everybody stays together, stay as warm as you can. Even if the hull is still out of the water, crawl up on that if it will stay afloat that way you're not in the water. It's much easier to spot a vessel overturned in the water than it is a person floating in the water. We always recommend staying the with boat if at all possible, stay with it and hang on to it."
The key to any day on the water is the same -- always be prepared and have a plan.
There is no way to totally prevent the chance of tragedy, but we must all do what we can to save lives.
That's my take, what's yours?