Memorial Day weekend is upon us.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency wants to remind boaters about the importance of wearing life jackets and boating in a safe and responsible manner.

The TWRA said the Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start to the summer boating season. Last year, for the third year in a row, there were not any fatalities related to boating incidents over the Memorial Day weekend.

So far this year, however, there have neem five boating-related deaths, four injury-accident incidents and five property damage accidents. Three of those deaths involved paddle crafts.

To make sure everyone stays safe on the water, the TWRA stresses the importance of the responsible use of alcohol while boating.

"It is important to consider the effects of drinking and driving whether on water or land," a TWRA spokesperson explained. "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."

It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol and drugs in the state of Tennessee.

The TWRA also wants to remind boaters to take a few minutes to perform a simple maintenance check before getting on the water. They suggest checking hoses, making sure the lights work and carrying extra fuses and bulbs.

The TWRA listed some additional basics for boaters to remember:

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

For additional tips and information about boating safety courses, visit the TWRA's website.