TWRA offers boating safety tips after water accidents

TWRA offers boating safety tips after water accidents

Posted:
Last year, there were 189 boating accidents with 18 fatalities. Last year, there were 189 boating accidents with 18 fatalities.
One of the many accidents the TWRA responded to. (Courtesy: TWRA) One of the many accidents the TWRA responded to. (Courtesy: TWRA)
Regular maintenance can help prevent an explosion. (Courtesy: TWRA) Regular maintenance can help prevent an explosion. (Courtesy: TWRA)

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Tennessee wildlife officials are spreading the word about staying safe on the water this summer.

They say scenes like the image to the right are all too common on Tennessee waterways. Last year, there were 189 boating accidents with 18 fatalities.

So far in 2013, there have been 49 accidents and 10 fatalities.

TWRA Officer Jeff Roberson worked eight of those accidents in East Tennessee.

"Last weekend, I worked two accidents - one here up on Fort Loudon Lake, a minor property damage accident, and one swamping that resulted in a sinking of a boat," said Roberson.

George Birdwell, a statewide boating investigator with TWRA, said there are several fatal mistakes boaters can make.

One big hazard to Tennessee boaters is carbon monoxide produced by boat engines.

"One of the biggest things that we've seen that's caused fatalities across the state, we refer to it as teak surfing - holding on to the back of the boat in very close proximity to the exhaust," Birdwell said.

He says to keep air flowing, don't hang out near the exhaust and remember carbon monoxide air pockets are under the swim platform, which can be deadly.

Another dangerous area is the dock due to electrocution deaths.

"Never ever swim around or inside a marina's harbor. Limit where vessels are receiving shore power," Birdwell said.

Also, maintain your vessel and release exhaust fumes before starting it up.

"We always work two to three accidents a year caused by an explosion on a vessel. Use the blower, the exhaust system for the engine compartment," he said.

To avoid crashes and capsizing, officers say to slow down in bad weather and watch out for high wakes.

And if you're near a dam - follow the rules.

"There's large, dangerous water signs and anytime you see those signs, you're required to wear your life jacket," said Roberson.

TWRA officers say most importantly boaters need to wear a life jacket and wear it properly by latching all the snaps.

Officers say this year an East Tennessee boater drowned because he didn't have his life jacket on properly.

The TWRA offers free boating safety classes. All you have to do is go to their website to sign up.

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