TWRA gives reminders for National Safe Boating Week
HENRY COUNTY, Tenn. — National Safe Boating Week starts May 16, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency wants people to know what to do to avoid an accident.
“Unfortunately, we’ve already had 28 accidents this year, with 10 fatalities. We’ve already seen an increase in fatalities from last year. In 2019, we had eight fatalities,” said Amy Snider, with TWRA’s Outreach and Communications.
Many of these accidents are avoidable. The two biggest contributors: having a lookout and a working life jacket.
“People get complacent when they get on the water. They’re not always maintaining that proper lookout. That is our number one contributor to an accident,” Snider said. “Unfortunately, we’re seeing in a lot of our fatalities that people are not wearing a life jacket. That can make a difference if you go into the water.”
There are also mandatory rules for occupants 12-years-old and under.
“Children 12 and under must have a life jacket on at all times. Even if you’re running a trolling motor, they need to have it on. Always check on your inflatables. Check your expiration dates, make sure they’re properly working,” Snider said.
Friday, May 15 is National Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day. You can wear your life jacket, take a picture, and then share a picture to social media, while also tagging the TWRA.
But a life jacket can only do so much. Boaters have to pay attention while on the water.
Plenty of people like to drink while on someone’s boat, but the TWRA will be enforcing laws against boating under the influence.
“Alcohol actually affects boat operators a little bit differently,” said Nick Luper, a boating officer for the TWRA. “We have what’s called stressors here on the water. Those stressors include the sun, the water, the noise, the vibration. All of those actually effect and increase an impairment level.”
If you are going boating, check which items you are required to have on board.
The TWRA can fine you if you’re not following the rules.
“The other required safety equipment for any boats 16-feet and over is a tight, throwable square cushion in case somebody goes overboard, as well as a fire extinguisher. We require you to have a fire extinguisher on board,” Luper said.
Other equipment isn’t required, but could be very helpful and save lives, like spare bulbs for lights, a tool box, and jumper cables.
It might seem like a lot. But it’s a simple checklist, and it could save someone’s life.
“Have a fun weekend, but just please be safe. We want you to have a good time, but we want you to make it home,” Snider said.
For complete rules and regulations regarding boating, the TWRA guide can be found here.