Boating safety important as season kicks off this weekend - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Boating safety important as season kicks off this weekend

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With thousands of people expected on area lakes this weekend, TWRA officials have many safety tips to make sure you don't become a statistic.

According to the agency, Chickamauga Lake led the state in 2014 with the most reported boating incidents--13 in all. A "reportable" incident involves a death, missing person, an injury which requires or should have required treatment beyond first aid, or property damage of $2,000 or more.

While alcohol was not the cause in most of those cases, boating officer Barry Baird says drinking behind the wheel just isn't smart on any waterway.

"Environmental factors such as waves, wind, and the weather and the sun, can act as stressors that can make you actually worse that you are," explains Baird, leading to further disorientation. A citation costs you money, possible jail time, and loss of boating privileges.

One of the leading causes of accidents is people simply not paying attention.

"If you're fishing, if you're scanning with sonar, always be sure take the time to look up and look around you," urges Baird. "Boats may be closer than you think they are."

If you have other people on the boat, assign one as a lookout.

Michael Kincaid, an avid boater and father of three young children, says distracted boaters are what concern him the most on a holiday weekend on the water.

"Especially on a busy weekend, you have a lot of people out there that just don't pay attention," says Kincaid. "People out there skiing, people concentrating on the skiers. You really have to be vigilant."

Also, know where you're going. Markers in the water help guide you.

"If you're going up river, the green buoys will be on your left and the red buoys will be on your right," says Baird. The reverse is true traveling down river. Some buoys are marked "Hazard" if there's an obstruction on or below the water that could cause an accident.

Last, but not least, be sure life vests are available for everyone on board..

"You want to make sure they're in good, serviceable condition, that they're accessible, and that each person on board the boat knows how to put them on."

For more information about boating safety as well as Tennessee boating laws and regulations, visit this web site.
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