TWRA warns boaters of common mistakes ahead of July 4th weekend

MADISON COUNTY, Tenn. — July 4th will look pretty different this year thanks to social distancing, but many West Tennesseans are still going to enjoy time on the water this weekend.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency says the amount of accidents this year has been concerning.

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“We’ve had a total of 66 boating incidents this year, with 13 of those being fatalities,” said Ray Garton, a District Sergeant for the TWRA. That’s already up from last year’s total.

That’s also why this year, they’re going to be strict on boating under the influence, and making sure boats have the proper equipment. It’s all part of Operation Dry Water.

“We do see an increase in alcohol use on the holiday weekend, and we’ve had 35 arrests this year for boating under the influence on Tennessee waters,” Garton said. “During the firework events, we will be checking for navigation lights. We encourage boaters to check those lights before they even go out on the water during the day.”

If you’re planning on water skiing or tubing, make sure the driver has a lookout.

“We see a lot of folks who are pulling skis or tubes, and they’re looking back. The requirement is that you either have a mirror, or someone 12 years or older as an observer,” Garton said.

Finally, the TWRA has seen some issues with kayakers — and they’re reminding residents about proper safety.

“Kayaks and canoes sit low to the water, so do something that makes you more visible. A bright colored life jacket or clothing,” Garton said.

The TWRA wants to remind all boaters to check their equipment to make to male sure they have everything required by law.

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