NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Memorial Day Weekend is right around the corner and in advance, National Safe Boating Week runs from Saturday, May 20 through Friday, May 26.
Therefore, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is preparing for the summer season by promoting boating safety.
“Safe Boating Week, it’s sort of a kickoff to the summer,” exclaimed Lt. Colonel Matt Majors of the TWRA Boating and Law Enforcement Division. “Everybody’s getting their boats ready to go out, canoes and kayaks. The weather is warming up and people are just dying to get on the water, so that’s a perfect opportunity to highlight all the safety concerns that we see throughout the year, because we don’t want to see any more boating incidents happening on our waterways.”
It’s been said over and over again, but wearing your life jacket really can make a difference, even if you are a good swimmer.
“I’ve never been to an incident scene where somebody told me, ‘I expected them to drown because they couldn’t swim,'” Majors said. “Most every time I’ve been there, people have said, ‘He was such a good swimmer.'”
Majors went on to explain that when someone falls overboard, it’s usually because something unexpected happened in the blink of an eye.
The law requires one life jacket on board for each person, and children 12 and under are required to have it on.
Operating a boat on the water is totally different than driving a car on the roadways.
“There are no speed limits,” Majors pointed out. “There are no stop signs and people are going all different directions, some pretty slow, some are going fast. One of the biggest things we tell people to do is maintain a proper lookout, and that’s 360 degrees, because you never know what’s coming up behind you, or if you go to turn, you definitely need to look.”
If you are caught operating a boat under the influence, officers will arrest you and take you to jail. The new laws state that if there is an accident with injury or death, it is prosecuted the same as driving a car under the influence.
The TWRA suggests everyone take one of their boating safety courses.
Any Tennessee resident born after Jan. 1, 1989, must show the TWRA-issued wallet Boating Safety Education Certificate as proof of successful completion of the TWRA Boating Safety exam.
To learn how and where to attend a boating safety class, visit the TWRA Boating Education page.
So, have fun on the water this summer, but stay safe!