Wildlife officers prepare for busy Memorial Day boating holiday

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The Memorial Day weekend is traditionally one of the busiest days on the water and wildlife officers are gearing up to try and help boaters keep it safe. (Photo: Richard Simms)

Memorial Day holiday weekend is regarded as the unofficial start to the summer boating season and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officers can be expected to be on the water in force.

The Memorial Day weekend is one of the year’s busiest boating weekends. Last year over the holiday weekend, there were no boating fatalities in Tennessee for the third consecutive year.  There were however eight boating accidents over the holiday weekend in 2013. Three of the accidents resulted in injuries and the other five were property damage accidents.

TWRA officers made 11 boating under the influence (BUI) statewide arrests in 2013, down from 22 such arrests in 2012.

So far in 2014, there have been six boating-related fatalities, 10 serious injury accidents, and 13 property damage incidents across the state.

Along with the use of life jackets, TWRA wants to stress the responsible use of alcohol while boating. It is important to consider the effects of drinking and driving whether on water or land. In a boat on the water, the effects of alcohol increase because of external stressors such as engine vibration, wave motion and glare from the sun.  Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in Tennessee.

For many Tennesseans, the Memorial Day weekend will be the first time to have the boat on the water this year.

TWRA officials say taking a few minutes to check some of the boat components may be the key to having a nice, safe day. Merely performing a simple maintenance check before getting on the water may prevent problems. Check hoses to make sure they are in good shape. Check spark plugs and be sure to use UL marine grade plugs.  Make sure the lights work and carry extra fuses and bulbs.

In addition, TWRA urges all boaters to remember the basics:

  • have a wearable life jacket for every person onboard
  • if your boat is 16 feet or longer, there must be a Type IV throwable device onboard
  • have onboard a fire extinguisher if you have enclosed fuel compartments or cabins
  • anyone under the age of 13 must wear a life jacket at all times while the boat is underway – drifting is considered underway
  • any boat operator born after January 1, 1989 must have onboard the TWRA-issued wallet Boating Safety Education Certificate
  • keep alcohol to a minimum–choose a designated boat operator
  • make sure there is a current boat registration

Boat Operation Basics:

  • keep a proper lookout at all times
  • maintain a safe speed
  • practice good seasmanship
  • cut the engine while boarding from the water or entering the water from the boat
  • be aware of the carbon monoxide hazards that exist and keep fresh air flowing
  • no wake means idle speed
  • take a boating safety course – log onto www.tnwildlife.org for information.

 

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