Boating Officer Gives Water Safety Tips Following Drownings, Water Rescues

Posted at 7:21 PM, May 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-14 21:18:09-04

A boating officer is spoke out on water safety after two drownings and four water rescues in recent days.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency offered these tips: 

  1. Be weather ready. Have a cell phone or device to track the weather.
  2. Have a throw cushion that you can toss to a stranded swimmer.
  3. Have a flotation device. It’s required by law to have flotation device if your vessel is 16 feet or longer.
  4. Have a life jacket for every person on board the boat. 
  5. Children under the age of 12 must always wear a life jacket while boating.
  6. Anyone near a body of water, who doesn't know how to swim must wear a life jacket.
  7. Boats must have a fire extinguisher on board. TWRA officials will check for one if they stop the boat.
  8. Life jackets should be in good condition - without any tears. 

Lately, TWRA district boating officers like Josh Landrum have been busy responding to emergencies.

"This past weekend below the dam, there was a kayak incident wherefour people went into the water. Fortunately, they were all wearing life jackets and that is what saved their lives," Landrum said.

While that family was rescued, that has not been the case with everyone. On Friday, 19-year-old Corey Polk drowned in Percy Priest Lake near the damHis mom told NewsChannel 5 he was trying to swim across the cove. 

A fisherman tried to get to the teen, but the current was too strong.

"For whatever reason if somebody finds their way into the water, if they get ejected from the vessel, or if they fall out of a kayak, one of the main pieces of safety equipment that you can have other than your life jacket is a throw cushion," Landrum said.

Swimmers stranded in the water can hold on to this flotation device until they are rescued by the experts. 

Landrum said, "There's definitely a lot of current, and you want to be careful if you're out swimming." 

This time of year there's not only swift water near the dam, but also, the water is cold enough to take your breath away.  

"Be prepared during this early part of summer for those cold waters and what you might experience when you do jump in," he said.

Unfortunately, there was also a drowning at Kentucky Lake Saturday. The body of a Fort Campbell soldier was recovered in the connecting river.

"The Tennessee River is a river system. It can have strong current, it can have large waves. If you're going out to different bodies of water, just be prepared, wear your life jacket," Landrum said.

It's also important to monitor the weather. Wind can change currents and create waves instantly.