Boating safety urged by TWRA

Boating safety urged by TWRA

Posted: Saturday, May 28, 2011 12:47 am

NASHVILLE — The 2011 Memorial Day holiday weekend is regarded as the unofficial start to the summer boating season and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency wants to emphasize the use of life jackets while boating in a safe and responsible manner.
Annually, the Memorial Day weekend is one of the year’s busiest boating weekends. A canoe accident on the Buffalo River in Wayne County resulted in the lone boating-related fatality over the 2010 Memorial Day holiday weekend. A 19-year old Mississippi man was a drowning victim when he became trapped between his canoe and a tree and could not be rescued.
Over the 2010 Memorial Day holiday period, there were six total reported accidents with three injuries across the state. TWRA officers made 17 boating under the influence (BUI) arrests over the weekend.
Overall in 2010, there were 167 boating accidents resulting in 19 fatalities across the state, a decrease from 22 fatalities in 2009. A total of 155 people were cited for BUI while 2,558 boaters received citations for various other infractions. Tennessee has 32 major reservoirs and 17,000 miles of navigable waterways.
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 with a Blood Alcohol Content of .08 or higher is illegal in Tennessee, the same as operating a motor vehicle.
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 younger than age 13 must wear a life jacket at all times while the boat is under way. Drifting is considered under way.
• Any boat operator born after Jan. 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.

Published in The Messenger 5.27.11

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