TENNESSEE, USA — It is National Safe Boating Week, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is stressing the importance of staying safe while on the water this season.
Every year during the week leading up to Memorial Day weekend, which is known as the unofficial start to summer, boating partners across the nation team up to promote safe practices while boating on open water.
One of the biggest safety tips, according to TWRA officers, is wearing a life jacket. The flotation device is only able to help save boaters' lives if they are wearing it. Boaters should make sure it fits properly, and that they are wearing it correctly.
Even if you believe you are a good swimmer, you never know what may happen. You could accidentally get thrown from a boat, something below the surface of the water could pull you under or you could become unconscious suddenly. In every situation, a life jacket could be the difference between life and death.
Also make sure, if you are on a boat, that there are enough life jackets that fit properly for everyone on board the vessel. If you don't have the proper equipment, an officer might even cite you.
TWRA also recommends boaters educate themselves on boating best practices. Take a boating safety course to gain more knowledge and on-water experience.
You can even schedule a free vessel safety check with the local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons to make sure all the correct equipment is on the boating, as well as in working and good condition.
Before you head out on the water, make a float plan. Always let a person on dry land know where you are going, who is going with you, and other essential information about the vessel and communication equipment.
TWRA also suggests using an engine cut-off device. It is a safety device that cuts off the boat's engine just in case the operator accidentally falls overboard.
Watch the weather, and keep track if there are any storms rolling your way. Always check the forecast before you leave the dock, so you know exactly what to expect while enjoying your day.
Have various ways to stay in touch with people on the boat. Make sure there is more than one communication device on the vessel that can still work even if it gets wet.
Stay alert and pay attention to what's going on around you at all times. TWRA says nearly a quarter of all reported boating accidents in 2022 were a result of the driver not paying attention. Also, know where you are going and obey the posted speed zones.
Never boat under the influence. Always designate a licensed sober boater to take over the controls if you do have anything to drink. A BUI is involved in one-third of all recreational boating deaths, according to TWRA.
TWRA wants you to have fun, while also avoiding any injuries, accidents or even deaths while out on the water. Officers will be patrolling the waterways all summer long.