Memorial Day holiday weekend is regarded as the unofficial start to the summer boating season and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency wants to emphasize the use of life jackets while boating in a safe and responsible manner.
Annually, the Memorial Day weekend is one of the year’s busiest boating weekends. Last year over the holiday weekend, there was one boating-related fatality, which came while a Knoxville resident was launching his boat from a trailer on Douglas Lake.
Along with the use of life jackets, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency wants to stress the responsible use of alcohol while boating. It is important to consider the effects of drinking and driving whether on water or land. In a boat on the water, the effects of alcohol increase because of external stressors such as engine vibration, wave motion and glare from the sun. Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in Tennessee.
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency boating officers made 11 boating under the influence (BUI) arrests over the 2014 Memorial Day weekend.
For many residents, the Memorial Day weekend will be the first time to have the boat on the water this year.
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officials say taking a few minutes to check some of the boat components may be the key to having a nice, safe day. Merely performing a simple maintenance check before getting on the water may prevent problems. Check hoses to make sure they are in good shape. Make sure the lights work and carry extra fuses and bulbs.
In addition, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency urges all boaters to remember these boating basics:
- Have a wearable life jacket for every person onboard
- If your boat is 16 feet or longer, there must be a Type IV throwable device onboard
- Have onboard a fire extinguisher if you have enclosed fuel compartments or cabins
- Anyone under the age of 13 must wear a life jacket at all times while the boat is underway – drifting is considered underway
- Any boat operator born after January 1, 1989 must have onboard the TWRA-issued wallet Boating Safety Education Certificate
- Keep alcohol to a minimum — choose a designated boat operator
- Make sure there is a current boat registration
Safe Boat Operation:
- Keep a proper lookout at all times
- Maintain a safe speed
- Practice good seasmanship
- 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
- Take a boating safety course
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency information on its boating website, including the Handbook of Tennessee Boating Laws and Responsibilities; Paddlesports Laws; boating safety education resources; boat theft prevention; and where to launch your boat.