As it gets hotter outside, many Tennesseans will take to the water, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is reminding boaters to do this safely and responsibly as the summer boating season begins.
The Memorial Day holiday weekend marks the unofficial start to the summer boating season and is one of the year's busiest boating weekends, according to the TWRA.
The TWRA wants people to stay safe as more boaters get on the water, so it has these reminders.
- Each boat should have a wearable life jacket for every person on board.
- Keep a proper lookout and maintain a safe speed.
- Turn off the engine while boarding from the water or entering the water from the boat.
- If your boat is 16 feet or longer, you must have a Type IV throwable device on your boat.
- Have a working fire extinguisher if you have enclosed fuel compartments or cabins.
- Children ages 12 and younger must wear a life jacket at all times while the boat is moving.
- Any boat operator born after January 1, 1989 must have a TWRA-issued wallet Boating Safety Education Certificate
The TWRA also wants to stress the responsible use of alcohol while boating. In a boat on the water, the effects of alcohol increase because of external stressors including engine vibration, wave motion and glare from the sun, officials said. It also said operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in Tennessee.
“Boating incidents are preventable,” said Capt. Matt Majors, statewide boating investigator. “Boating under the influence is irresponsible and illegal. Our wildlife officers will be out day and night on our waterways to ensure the safety of our boating public.”
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Over the past five years, there were no boating-related fatalities during the holiday weekend, TWRA said. In 2019, there were 21 boating under the influence arrests, five injury incidents and six property damage incidents over the holiday weekend.