NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency wants to ensure that boaters stay safe over the holiday weekend.

Nathan Karch, a wildlife officer in Sumner County, said that life jackets are essential.

“The first thing that we want to let everybody know about is life jackets, that’s the one thing that we stress the most is always, always wear your life jacket,” said Karch. “If you’re just dead set on not wearing them, please make sure that they’re on board and readily accessible.”

Children under the age of 12 are required to wear a life jacket when the boat is moving.

“If you are 12 years of age or under, you have to be wearing a life jacket at all times while the boat is underway,” said Karch. “The only exception is if you are tied off, which you would be more, or you are at anchor, and the kids are swimming, and you are supervising those children, then they can take it off.”

The TWRA also has recommendations for boaters who plan to enjoy alcoholic beverages over the weekend.

“We recommend just having a designated driver that knows how to operate that vessel and can do so in a safe manner,” said Karch. “Because we want everybody to go out, enjoy themselves, have a good time, but return safe.”

Debris is also a big hazard, especially at Old Hickory Lake. The same is also true of the Cumberland River.

“There’s constant debris [on the Cumberland River], and if you’re not staying true to those channel markers, and right in the channel, if you vary off any, you could potentially end up in a very dangerous and hazardous situation,” said Karch. “There are all kinds of stumps, rocks, and just barely submerged debris that might be suspended there in the water that your boat could hit. It could potentially capsize you or flip you.”

The TWRA also emphasized that if you plan to boat at night, you need to make sure your navigation lights are fully functional before you get on the water.