Boating safety tips before a busy weekend

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) – Memorial Day weekend is considered the unofficial kickoff to the summer boating season, but it’s a deadly start in Tennessee.

So far in 2022, ten people have lost their lives on the water. It’s a stark reminder for anyone out on the water over the holiday weekend to follow safety guidelines.

TWRA spends the week leading up to Memorial Day weekend educating people during National Safe Boating Week. This came as the agency reported a noticeable increase in traffic on the state’s lakes and rivers over the past two years.

Here are some tips they want boaters to keep in mind:

  • Take a boating safety course. Gain valuable knowledge and experience on the water in a boating safety course with plenty of options for novice to experienced boaters.
  • Check the equipment. Schedule a complimentary Vessel Safety Check with local US Coast Guard Auxiliaries or US Power Squads to ensure all essential equipment is present, functional and in good condition.
  • Make a float plan. Always inform someone ashore of the voyage itinerary, including operator and passenger information, boat type and registration, and on-board communications equipment.
  • Wear a life jacket. Make sure everyone wears a life jacket – every time. A stowed lifejacket is useless in an emergency.
  • Use an engine shut-off device. An engine cut-off device, or engine cut-off switch, is a proven safety device for stopping the boat’s engine if the operator falls overboard unexpectedly.
  • Watch the weather. Always check the forecast before you set out on the water and frequently during the trip.
  • Know what is always happening around you at all times. Nearly a quarter of all boating accidents reported last year were caused by operator inattention or poor supervision.
  • Know where you’re going and travel at safe speeds. Familiarize yourself with the area, local boating speed zones and always boat at a safe speed.
  • Never sail under the influence. A BUI is implicated in one-third of all boating-related fatalities. Always designate a sober skipper.
  • To stay in contact. 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.