Officers say some boaters make poor decisions on water
Posted: Monday, June 7, 2010 9:04 pm
CHATTANOOGA (AP) — Wildlife agency officers say boaters often cause their own safety problems, sometimes just by failing to pay attention.
Tennessee Wildlife Re-sources Agency boat officer Matt Majors told The Chattanooga Times Free Press he has to “deal mostly with really good people who make poor decisions.”
Boating-related deaths in the state have increased from 10 in 2005 to 22 last year, which officials attribute to more boaters on the water.
TWRA spokesman Dan Hicks said, “It’s amazing how many people get out on the water at the beginning of the season who aren’t prepared.”
During a patrol earlier this year, he stopped a boat with seven people and only two lifejackets.
While citing the owner, his fellow officer noticed water in the boat and they ended up having to tow it to shore.
Hicks said he and another officer recently cited a new boater who’d never owned a boat, never driven a boat on a trailer and had not registered his boat, but was driving a pontoon on a trailer on the interstate.
Officials say otherwise-responsible people will get on the water in the sun and suddenly forget basic safety, such as checking to see if there’s gas in the tank.
Unexpected weather changes can cause trouble for the unprepared as well.
Tim Troutman, National Weather Service meteorologist based in Morristown said, “If you can hear thunder, you’re close enough to be struck by lightning.”
Boaters on the water are often the tallest objects, and they’re surrounded by water and metal — two electrical conductors, he said. Boaters should listen for weather updates and head for shelter at the first sign of a storm, he said.
If caught on open water during a thunderstorm, boaters should drop anchor, point the bow of the boat into the wind, stay low and not touch metal. Before hitting the water, boat operators should make sure their boat has an electrical grounding, he said.
People also forget that a boat doesn’t work like a car.
“There are rules of road on the water,” said Betsy Woods, TWRA boating safety education coordinator. “Bottom line is: If you’re heading for a collision, boats don’t have brakes and there are no traffic signs.”
Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, http://www.timesfreepress.com
Published in The Messenger 6.7.10