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Boating safety ahead of busy holiday weekend

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Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start to the summer boating season. As one of the biggest boating weekends of the year, it's important to remember some safety tips to keep your friends and family safe.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA)  emphasizes the use life jackets and the effects of drinking and driving, regardless of being on water or land. In a boat, the effects of alcohol are increased due to stressors such as engine vibrations, wave motion, and glare from the sun. Operating a boat while under the influence is illegal in Tennessee. In 2015, TWRA boating officers made 12 boating under the influence (BUI) arrests. 

Last year's Memorial Day weekend saw no fatalities, but there were seven boating incidents, one of which led to injuries. 

Because this weekend is often the first time boats will be on the water this year, TWRA officials urge owners to check last minute boat components before going out on the water. Those simple checks could prevent any problems that would be encountered out on the water. 

Check hoses to make sure they are in good shape, make sure lights are working, 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 a fire extinguisher onboard 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 boy operator born after January 1, 1989 must have onboard the TWRA-issued wallet Boating Safety Education Certificate
  • Choose a designated boat operator and keep alcohol to a minimum
  • Make sure there is a current boat registration

Additionally, keep in mind some basic boating operations as you head on onto the water:

  • Keep a proper lookout at all times
  • Maintain a safe speed
  • Cut the engine off while boarding or entering the water
  • Be aware of the carbon monoxide hazards that exist and keep fresh air flowing
  • No wake means idle speed

For more information, or to take your boating safety course, you can long onto www.tnwildlife.org

WBIR contributed to this story

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