National Safe Boating Week kicks off in TN for 2022

Knoxville, Tenn. (WATE) – The state announced last week that the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is participating in National Safe Boating Week 2022, which runs May 21-27. The annual event promotes safe activity on the waterways as well as the wearing of life jackets as the summer boating season kicks off.

National Safe Boating Week takes place each year the week before Memorial Day weekend, which is often considered the unofficial start of the summer boating season.

In Tennessee, all boats, including canoes and kayaks, must be equipped with a portable personal flotation device or PFD for each person on board or for each person being towed on water skis, etc. Boats that are 16 feet in length or more must also be equipped with one Type IV (disposable) PFD per boat in case someone falls overboard.

According to the state, TWRA has reported “a noticeable increase” in traffic on the state’s waterways over the past two years. In fact, so far in 2022, the state says there have been eight deaths statewide, three of which involved paddling.

“We see the bad side of things, we see when the day is going badly,” TWRA captain Matt Majors said in an educational speech. video shared by the agency on Twitter. “So the penalties are like they are on the pavement. A person can and will be arrested if they are found to be under the influence of alcohol or an intoxicating drug. They may also lose their vessel operating privileges. They may also be subject to fines. But more importantly, if we don’t catch them, before an accident happens, they could change their life or someone else’s life forever and that’s exactly the kind of thing we want to prevent not only by education but also by repression.

TWRA said alcohol consumption is the leading contributing factor to boating-related fatalities.

TWRA also shared the following safety tips to keep in mind when recreating on the water:

  • Take a boating safety course. Gain valuable knowledge and experience on the water in a boating safety course with plenty of options for novice to experienced boaters.
  • Check the equipment. Schedule a complimentary Vessel Safety Check with local US Coast Guard Auxiliaries or US Power Squads to ensure all essential equipment is present, functional and in good condition.
  • Make a float plan. Always inform someone ashore of the voyage itinerary, including operator and passenger information, boat type and registration, and on-board communications equipment.
  • Wear a life jacket. Make sure everyone wears a life jacket – every time. A stowed lifejacket is useless in an emergency.
  • Use an engine shut-off device. An engine cut-off device, or engine cut-off switch, is a proven safety device for stopping the boat’s engine if the operator falls overboard unexpectedly.
  • Watch the weather. Always check the forecast before you set out on the water and frequently during the trip.
  • Know what is always happening around you at all times. Nearly a quarter of all boating accidents reported last year were caused by operator inattention or poor supervision.
  • Know where you’re going and travel at safe speeds. Familiarize yourself with the area, local boating speed zones and always boat at a safe speed.
  • Never sail under the influence. A BUI is implicated in one-third of all boating-related fatalities. Always designate a sober skipper.
  • To stay in contact. Have more than one communication device that works when wet. VHF radios, emergency locator beacons, satellite phones and cell phones can all be important devices in an emergency.

More information on TWRA’s boating safety and regulations can be found on its official webpage on the subject.


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