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Boating safety tips ahead of busy holiday weekend

boating memorial day
Posted at 5:44 AM, May 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-29 06:44:49-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF)  — Memorial Day weekend is considered the unofficial kickoff to the summer boating season, but it's off to a deadly start in Tennessee.

So far in 2022, ten people have lost their lives on the water. It’s a stark reminder for all heading out on the water during the holiday weekend to follow safety guidelines.

The TWRA spends the week before Memorial Day Weekend educating people during National Safe Boating Week. It came as the agency has reported a noticeable increase in traffic on state lakes and rivers over the past couple of years.

Here’s some tips they want boaters to keep in mind:

  • Take a boating safety course. Gain valuable knowledge and on-water experience in a boating safety course with many options for novice to experienced boaters.
  • Check equipment. Schedule a free vessel safety check with local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons to make sure all essential equipment is present, working and in good condition.
  • Make a float plan. Always let someone on shore know the trip itinerary, including operator and passenger information, boat type and registration, and communication equipment on board.
  • Wear a life jacket. Make sure everyone wears a life jacket – every time. A stowed life jacket is no use in an emergency.
  • Use an engine cut-off device. An engine cut-off device, or engine cut-off switch, is a proven safety device to stop the boat’s engine should the operator unexpectedly fall overboard.
  • Watch the weather. Always check the forecast before departing on the water and frequently during the excursion.
  • Know what’s always going on around you at all times. Nearly a quarter of all reported boating accidents last year were caused by operator inattention or improper lookout.
  • Know where you’re going and travel at safe speeds. Be familiar with the area, local boating speed zones and always travel at a safe speed.
  • Never boat under the influence. A BUI is involved in one-third of all recreational boating fatalities. Always designate a sober skipper.
  • Keep in touch. Have more than one communication device that works when wet. VHF radios, emergency locator beacons, satellite phones, and cell phones can all be important devices in an emergency.