KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start to boating season. And the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency predicts it will be one of the busiest boating weekends all year.
So it's urging boaters to be careful and prepared.
“Last year, 23 people died in boating accidents in Tennessee,” said TWRA spokesperson Matthew Cameron. “We don’t want that to happen again.”
During Memorial Day Weekend 2018, there were no boating-related fatalities over the holiday. However, there were three boating accidents with injuries.
Ten people were arrested for boating under the influence, and there were two property damage incidents.
“Something we always want to emphasize is wearing your life jacket at all times while you’re on the waterways,” Cameron said.
TWRA recommends a life jacket be available for every person on board. And any child younger than 12 years old must wear a life jacket at all times while the boat is underway.
Another thing to be aware of? You can't drink and boat-- operating a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is dangerous and illegal.
“Your judgment is impaired while you're drinking,” Cameron said. “It’s illegal for a boat driver to consume alcohol, but it’s risky for passengers to consume too much alcohol as well.”
For many people, Memorial Day weekend will be the first time to have the boat in the water this year.
TWRA officials say taking a few minutes to do a maintenance check on your boat is key to have a nice, safe ride.
“Check your hoses and make sure they’re in good shape,” Cameron said. “Also, make sure the lights work and carry extra fuses and bulbs, maybe even a glow stick or two, just in case.”
Lastly, make sure the owner has a current boat registration. Any operator born after January 1, 1989 must also have a TWRA-issued wallet Boating Safety Education Certificate on board with them.
Enjoy the water, and be safe out there!