NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is once again an active participant in National Safe Boating Week, May 20-26. The annual event serves as a reminder to promote safe boating activity and preparation for the summer boating season
National Safe Boating Week is held each year on the week prior to Memorial Day weekend. Boating partners across the United States and Canada are teaming up to emphasize safe boating practices, including wearing life jackets for National Safe Boating Week and throughout the 2023 boating season. The TWRA and partner organizations continue to prioritize educating the boating community about the importance of wearing life jackets and available options that are more lightweight and comfortable.
“Life jackets can save your life, but only if you wear them,” said Betsy Woods, TWRA Boating Education Coordinator. “As always, we want our boaters to have an enjoyable, safe time on our waters across the state.”
Tennessee offers boating enthusiasts an abundance of opportunities to enjoy the resources across the state. Memorial Day weekend is May 27-29 and is viewed as the unofficial start to the summer boating season.
TWRA reports there has been a noticeable increase in traffic on the state’s lakes and rivers in the last few years, especially in paddle craft. Thus far in 2023, there have been nine statewide fatalities, one more than at the same time last year. Two of the incidents occurred in back-to-back days on May 12-13. Four of the fatalities have involved paddle craft.
Recommended tips for boaters:
- 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 the 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 of 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 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, and 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.