Return to water activities prompts safety reminder

Flowers are in bloom, the days are growing longer, and the air and water are warming.

But these harbingers of spring -- and of the summer to follow -- are accompanied by more foreboding reminders, too.

On Saturday, Fripp Island Sea Rescue volunteers rescued two teenage boys from Asheville, N.C., who were stranded on a sandbar near Hunting Island as the tide came in. Fortunately, the crew helped avert what the advancing water could have quickly turned into a tragedy.

But the volunteers cannot be everywhere at once, nor does a person have to willfully enter the water to be at risk.

On Sunday, the body of an 84-year-old Hilton Head Island man was found in shallow water near a Skull Creek Marina dock by an employee there, according to the Beaufort County Coroner's Office. George Brown, who lived full-time on his boat at the marina, apparently fell into the creek sometime late Saturday while either boarding or stepping off his sailboat.

On Monday, 83-year-old Frank Fulwood of Burton died when his truck slipped into Battery Creek while he was attempting to haul his boat out of the water at the Parris Island Landing.

Initial reports said Fulwood was swimming to shore, but when firefighters arrived, he was unconscious and still in the water, according to a Burton Fire Department spokesman.

Although the water does much to enhance our Lowcountry way of life, it is a power that warrants respect and demands vigilance.

Remember, don't swim alone. Swim only in supervised or familiar areas. Get out of the water if you feel tired or cold, think you've gotten too much sun or are too far from safety.

If you're going on a boat or dock, wear non-slip shoes. Wear a life jacket. Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return. Do not overload your boat.

And remember, don't mix alcohol with swimming or boating.

Keep the warm-weather months joyous by keeping them safe.