Boating or beaching? The top seven tips of how to stay safe in Myrtle Beach waters

Flickr user jon smith 'una nos lucror'
The shore can sneak away from you fast - not so bad for these two yet, but imagine being on the further out sandbar.

Myrtle Beach is a fantastic place, in large thanks to all the water that surrounds us. It offers so many ways to have a good time: going to the beach, boating, kayaking, or just sitting on the dock and having a drink.

But along with that fun comes a lot of risks that aren't always obvious.

You probably know to bring a life jacket when boating, to bring a cell phone, to check the weather, and to wear that sunscreen, so here's our top seven things to do (or not) that aren't as obvious:

1) Vanishing sandbars: While taking long walks on South Carolina's beautiful beaches, be sure to watch for incoming tides, as the water doesn't always rise just in front of you. Many times, that lovely long stretch of beach is part sandbar and will soon be consumed by the 12 feet of water coming home.

2) Riptides: Should you find yourself being sucked out to sea by a strong riptide, remember never to fight a riptide and instead swim with the flow of it until the force has dispersed and you can swim parallel to shore and find a safe spot with mild currents to swim back.

3) Put your cell phone and car keys in two ziplock bags: One bag will protect it from getting wet, and it'll make you feel like it's safe — which means you're more likely to drop it into the water. So two bags makes it a lot less likely that water will get through that bag you didn't quite seal right, and it gives you a better chance of having enough trapped air that the bag will float. A dry cell phone at the bottom of the ocean is about as good as a wet one.

4) Bring that cell phone, but don't count on it: Always have a backup plan. Service is much better out towards Hunting Island than it used to be, but don't count on having a signal in a crisis. 

5) Swimming creatures are bad, floating are more fearsome: Sure, there are sharks out there, but they're quite small and not interested in man. Be much more concerned about the jellyfish and other stinging creatures floating.

6) Beware the jetties: If you're new to boating in Charleston waters, you may not be aware of the massive rock jetties that shield the deepened entrance to the Charleston Harbor. They're great if you're steering a massive cargo container into port, and very, very bad if you run your boat across them. More details on that here.

7) Beware the groins: Continuing the tip from above, many Lowcountry beaches have lines of rock "groins" to protect from erosion. Look for the signs at high tide and give them a wide berth as the currents are all to apt to wash you into them and scratch you quite badly.

Did we miss anything? What are your little-known tips?

In case you're new to safety on the water, here are a lot more tips from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.

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