Make safe boating a habit this summer when enjoying area lakes

Published 11:23 am Friday, May 17, 2024

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With each day we get closer to summer and enjoying the activities that are a part of it, such as boating on area lakes. And, coming up next weekend is Memorial Day – a day famously known as the kickoff for summer with lots of picnics, swimming, and of course, boating at the lake.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is promoting National Safe Boating Week, which is being observed this week. It is a week to remind all boaters to brush up on boating safety skills and prepare for the boating season.

TWRA is committed to make Tennessee waterways safe for everyone to enjoy, by asking boaters to boat responsibly, keep alcohol at a minimum, make sure their boat is in good working condition and by all means wear a life jacket.

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TWRA reports there has been a continued increase in traffic on the state’s lakes and rivers the last few years, especially in paddlecraft. Two of the three boating-related fatalities in the state this year have involved paddlecraft.  

U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in four out of every five recreational boating fatalities and that 75 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.

Recommended safety tips for boaters include:

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 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.

Practicing common sense boating safety is every boater’s responsibility, not only during the summer season, but every day. Enjoy Tennessee’s lakes by being safe – not sorry. Always making boating safety top priority every day.