To have a safe July 4th on the water, follow the rules

Published 10:40 am Tuesday, June 27, 2023

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There’s no better time to take a boat out on the water than Independence Day. Summer is in full swing so the weather is beautiful and most people are off work and school so the whole family can enjoy a day on the water. It’s the perfect way to cap off your long weekend.
With the increase in boats on the water, and people celebrating, boating safety is that much more important. Independence Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day often account for more than one-third of annual boating accidents and fatalities.
As a reminder, the TWRA will be on heightened alert for boating under the influence infractions this July 4th. Over the course of the July 4th holiday period, law enforcement officers will also be working to increase public awareness of the dangers of boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, for both operators and passengers. Boaters will notice an overall increase of officer patrols on the water. The combined efforts of the participating law enforcement agencies will result in the removal of impaired operators from the state’s waterways, providing a safe experience for voters.
As of July 1, BUI penalties will align with DUI laws in terms of jail time, fines, boat impoundment and loss of boat operating privileges. The new law additionally clarifies that officers can seek a search warrant for blood alcohol should someone refuse the implied consent portion of the law.
According to the TWRA, alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater death. Sun, wind, noise, vibration, and motion intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs, and some medications. Operating a boat with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher is illegal in Tennessee, the same as operating a motor vehicle.
With an increase in boats on the water, and people celebrating, boating safety is that more important.
No matter how much experience you have, it’s always a good idea to review boating safety rules before you go out boating. Some trips that allow you to stay safe when taking the boat out this holiday weekend:
– Be Weather-wise: Always check the local weather conditions before departure. If you notice darkening clouds, rough changing winds, or sudden drops in temperature, play it safe by getting off the water.
– Follow a Pre-Departure Checklist: Proper boating safety includes being prepared for any possibility on the water. Following a pre-departure checklist is the best way to make sure no boating safety rules or precautions have been overlooked or forgotten.
– Develop a Float Plan: Whether you choose to inform a family member or staff at your local marina, always be sure to let someone else know your float plan. This should include who you’re with, including name(s) and phone number(s) of all passengers.
– Make Proper Use of Lifejackets: Did you know that the majority of drowning victims are the result of boaters not wearing their lifejackets? Make sure that your family and friends aren’t part of this statistic by assigning and fitting each member of your onboard team with a lifejacket prior to departure. Children under 12 are REQUIRED to wear them at all times. Wear it!
– Learn To Swim: If you’re going to be in and around the water, proper boating safety includes knowing how to swim.
– Use Common Sense: One of the most important parts of boating safety is to use your common sense. This means operating at a safe speed at all times (especially in crowded areas), staying alert at all times and steering clear of large vessels and watercraft that can be restricted in their ability to stop or turn. Also, be respectful of buoys and other navigational aids, all of which have been placed there to ensure your own safety.
– Take a Boating Safety Course: Beginning boaters and experienced experts alike need to be familiar with the boating safety rules of operation. Boater education requirements vary by state; however, some require validated completion of at least one boating safety course.
With July 4th falling on a Tuesday this year, the TWRA holiday period will begin at 6 p.m. (local time) on Friday, June 30, and continue through midnight on the 4th.
If you plan to be on one of our area lakes this holiday, follow the rules of safety.

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