KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — National Safe Boating Week starts prior to Memorial Day weekend and state wildlife officers are sharing what you need to know before heading to the lake or river.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is making sure people are staying safe on the water explained officer Jeff Roberson.
“When we make a vessel stop we look for the proper safety equipment, is there a life jacket for every person on board, are children 12 and under wearing their life jacket, is there a fire extinguisher if required, and is there a throwable if required,” Roberson said. “Also looking for registration.”
The TWRA said last year, the state saw the most boating-related deaths in 37 years with 32 fatalities.
“We’re seeing an increase in fatalities already this year,” Roberson said. “Hopefully that trend does not continue.”
That’s why they are doing extra patrolling as summer boating season starts.
Along with making sure boaters have the right equipment, the TWRA is looking for impaired boaters.
“The legal limit on the water is the same at .08, the same that it is driving a vehicle,” Roberson stated. “We are out looking for boating under the influence and impaired operators, looking to arrest, and remove them from our waterways.”
Joe Cox is a retired law enforcement officer and has his own advice for fellow boaters,
“Don’t drink, be very careful, and if you’re in a boat that size have on your life preserver.”
He’s been boating for 30 years.
“Most of the time its nice and quiet, and we can get in the cove a way and relax,” Cox said.
Cox added that you probably won’t see him on the water on the busy Memorial Day weekend, but he is telling other boaters to have fun and be safe.
The TWRA said there’s a lot of things to remember when out on the water but one of the most important thing you can do to keep yourself and others safe is to wear a life jacket.
Also remember that anybody born after Jan. 1, 1989, is required to have completed a boater’s safety course to operate a boat in Tennessee.