Enjoy your time on the water in a safe and responsible manner

Published 10:50 am Friday, May 20, 2022

Carter County is blessed to have Watauga Lake in its midst. Nearby are Boone Lake and South Holston Lake. All three are wonderful places to have a good time and to enjoy some fun time on the water.
This week coming up is National Safe Boating Week, which promotes safe boating practices, including the wear of life jackets not only this week but throughout the 2022 boating season.
Boating is all about having fun — but it’s also about being safe while out on the water.
Tennessee offers boating enthusiasts an abundance of opportunities to enjoy the resources across the state. Memorial Day weekend is viewed as the unofficial start to the summer boating season.
TWRA has reported a noticeable increase in traffic on the state’s lakes and rivers the last couple of years. Thus far in 2022, there have been eight statewide fatalities, three of which have involved paddle craft.
We want to continue to stress that the single most important action one can take to prevent drowning while boating is to wear a life jacket. Also, we encourage our boaters to enjoy their time on the water in a safe and responsible manner.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has recommended these tips for boaters for a safe holiday and summer on the water:
• Take a boating safety course. Gain valuable knowledge and on-water experience in a boating safety course with many options for novice to experienced boaters.
• Check equipment. Schedule a free vessel safety check with local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons to make sure all essential equipment is present, working and in good condition.
• Make a float plan. Always let someone on shore know the trip itinerary, including operator and passenger information, boat type and registration, and communication equipment on board.
• Wear a life jacket. Make sure everyone wears a life jacket — every time. A stowed life jacket is no use in an emergency.
• Use an engine cut-off device. An engine cut-off device, or engine cut-off switch, is a proven safety device to stop the boat’s engine should the operator unexpectedly fall overboard.
• Watch the weather. Always check the forecast before departing on the water and frequently during the excursion.
• Know what’s always going on around you at all times. Nearly a quarter of all reported boating accidents last year were caused by operator inattention or improper lookout.
• Know where you’re going and travel at safe speeds. Be familiar with the area, local boating speed zones and always travel at a safe speed.
• Never boat under the influence. A BUI is involved in one-third of all recreational boating fatalities. Always designate a sober skipper.
• Keep in touch. Have more than one communication device that works when wet. VHF radios, emergency locator beacons, satellite phones, and cell phones can all be important devices in an emergency.
Remember that it is important to take the necessary steps to make sure everyone on board stays safe while you’re on the water. Many people seek refuge on the water, finding a relaxing day fishing or riding just the remedy. But boaters needs to make sure they’re safe while on the water or travelling to and from — and that begins with preparation.
The Memorial Day weekend signals the start of boating season for many folks. Every boater needs to do what they can now to ensure a safe and fun summer on the water.

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