TWRA keeping waterways safe this Memorial Day

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LENOIR CITY, Tenn. (WATE) — Memorial Day weekend kicks off boating season and with the hot temperatures and sunshine this holiday weekend, Tennessee waterways were busy.

Wally Lessig has worked as a Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officer for two years patrolling Tennessee waterways, making sure people are staying safe while out on the lakes.

As they patrol, Lessig says they mainly look for safety violations such as not wearing a life jacket for people who are 12 years old and younger, people speeding through no wake zones, or recklessly operating within a congested area to name a few.

Boaters are subject to a safety inspection while out on the water. Officers are checking for equipment such as:

  • Life jacket of the proper size
  • Number of life jackets for the number of people on board
  • Type 4 throw cushion if your vessel is greater than 16 feet in length
  • Charged fire extinguisher
  • Boater registration

It’s important for people to have these tools on their boats before leaving their docks. If not, they can receive a citation.

TWRA officers also patrol for people drinking while driving, a safety issue that can easily cause an accident.

“It seems that alcohol and water go hand in hand at times,” Lessig mentioned as they have had DUI violations already this year.

On days like Memorial Day when there is more traffic on the lake, Lessig notes the importance of boater education as inexperienced boat operators are one of the main causes for accidents.

Lessig notes,”When you’re operating in the lake or in the canal or in the channel, you need to stay to the right side of that channel going upstream or downstream: stay to the right.”

Boaters should also lookout for floating debris in the water.

Lessig says there is a lot of debris like logs and trees in Fort Loudoun Lake right now after water levels rose, bringing debris off the shore into the lake; which can cause damage to boats and potential accidents.

While boating season gets underway, it’s important for everyone to follow the rules to ensure a safe time out on Tennessee’s waterways.

“Please wear your life jacket, please use common sense out on the lake, obey the navigational rules and please watch for other boaters out there on the waterways.”

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