TWRA offers boating safety tips for Memorial Day weekend


Many people were able to take full advantage of the great weather Sunday on Watauga Lake in Carter County.  

But the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency wants people to remember some very important rules when boating out on the lake during this three-day holiday weekend.  

TWRA says that this is one of their busiest weekends. 

“Especially on memorial day and the fourth of July– our big boating holidays–, it’s not uncommon for some of our officers to have to work 12 or 15 hours. Our primary goal is to keep everybody safe and make sure everybody gets home and has a fun weekend,” said Wildlife Officer John Ripley.

Some of those rules enforced by the TWRA is having a working fire extinguisher. 

Ripley says to check the pressure every boating season and when you get a new boat.

“Fire extinguishers will lose pressure over time even if they aren’t used,” said Ripley.

If you plan to fish on the lake, make sure you have a fishing license.  

TWRA also says, “in the state of Tennessee anybody born after January 1, 1989, has to take a boater education class and has to be issued a boating license.”

Another item required on a larger boat, 

“any vessel over 16 feet needs to have a type four throwable,” said Ripley.

The biggest rule though? Having life jackets.   

“The most important thing to make sure you have on a vessel is a wearable life jacket for everyone on board,” said John Ripley, TWRA officer in Carter County. “They make them in all sizes for child and for infants. Especially for infants and toddlers, it needs to be sized for the weight and what’s going to fit them so they don’t slip out.” 

Some items that aren’t required on a boat but are suggested include an anchor, rope and a throw bag. 

“With an anchor, you need to have three times the feet in rope of the depth of the water. You always need to tie the rope to the bow when your out and not the stern,” said Ripley.

Of course, don’t boat under the influence. Ripley says that temperature, waves, and not staying hydrated are all factors in drinking on the water, 

“Alcohol on the water actually has a stronger impact on the scenes and the ability to operate a vessel than it does to operate a vehicle.”

Lastly, there’s a new law to be aware of on the water.

“If a patrol vessel has a vehicle stopped and the blue light are on, there is a new state law that says all vessels must stay at least 100 feet away from the stopped vessel or must reduce down to idle speed when passing the patrol boat,” said Ripley.

These are all things to keep in mind to stay safe on the water. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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