TWRA officials urge boaters to stay safe during holiday weekend

Posted at 12:15 PM, May 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-24 19:23:39-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — After being stuck inside for months because of COVID-19, many are looking to get outdoors this Memorial Day Weekend.

Memorial day weekend is one of the year's busiest boating weekends.

While the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency wants you to have fun, they're stressing the importance of doing it smart and responsibly on the water.

In 2019, there were 21 boating under the influence (BUI) arrests made over the holiday weekend. TWRA wildlife officers reported five injury incidents and six property damage incidents.

"If you're out on the boat and you're drinking we'll be watching for that," TWRA boating officer Clay Hetland said, "if you're drinking have somebody of age drive the boat."

Any boat operator born after January 1, 1989 must have on board the TWRA-issued wallet Boating Safety Education Certificate.

Don't forget the life jackets, they can save a life. You should have a wearable life jacket for every person on-board.

"That goes for kayaks, canoes, jet skis," said Hetland, "anyone 12 years and younger has to wear that life jacket at all times."

For many, this weekend will be the first time this year they're out on the lake.

Make sure to perform a simple maintenance check before getting on the water to prevent problems. For instance, making sure the lights work and carrying extra bulbs.

Here are some other TWRA boating safety basics:

  • If your boat is 16 feet or longer, there must be a Type IV throwable device on board
  • Have onboard a working fire extinguisher if you have enclosed fuel compartments or cabins
  • Make sure there is a current boat registration
  • Keep a proper lookout at all times
  • Maintain a safe speed
  • cut the engine while boarding from the water or entering the water from the boat
  • Be aware of the carbon monoxide hazards that exist and keep fresh air flowing
  • No wake” means idle speed

To take boating safety courses, log onto