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TWRA urges boaters and swimmers to stay safe over Memorial Day weekend

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said that seven boating fatalities have been reported so far this year in the state.

TENNESSEE, USA — Memorial Day weekend is approaching, when boaters and swimmers across Tennessee are expected to dive into the water and enjoy the great outdoors.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is urging people to stay safe over the weekend, no matter how they plan to spend the holiday. They said more patrols will be out ahead of Memorial Day, making sure people are safe on the water.

Officials also urged people to wear lifejackets if they head out on the water. In a series of videos produced for National Safe Boating Week, they also took boaters through steps they can take to protect themselves and others on the water.

They showed different kinds of lifejackets, such as a Type V lifejacket which should only be worn by people over 16 years old and can present problems. However, officials said the Type III lifejacket is almost guaranteed to work in calm and inland water.

It's National Safe Boating Week, and boating partners across the United States and Canada are teaming to promote safe boating practices. National Safe Boating Week aims to educate the public about the importance of safe boating practices and wearing life jackets. Today's tip discusses the different types of lifejackets that you can wear while boating in Tennessee. #tnboating #NationalSafeBoatingWeek #wearittn #safeboating

Posted by Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency on Tuesday, May 25, 2021

"We just want y'all to be safe on the water, enjoy your time and make it home," said Brad Wheat, a wildlife manager in West Tennessee.

Officials with the TWRA are also asking people to avoid swimming in areas where they could be an electric current. They said electrocution incidents around marinas are not uncommon.

"Something we see, maybe not every year but we see fairly frequently, is electrocution around marinas and stray currents around marinas," said Sergeant Roy Smith. "So most of the area marinas have signs up that discourage or prohibit people from swimming in the marina harbor."

Last year, Tennessee broke a record. It was the deadliest year on the state's waterways in the last 37 years. 

According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, there were 32 boating-related deaths last year.

In 2019, there were eight boating deaths. 37% of those fatalities were alcohol or drug-related. There were also 61 accidents with serious injuries. 

TWRA made 62 arrests for boating under the influence.  

  • A couple of safety reminders:
  • Don't forget to wear your life jacket. 
  • Check and inspect your boat before you get out on the water.  
  • Prepare your emergency kit.

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