KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — As part of a multi-part series, Kingsport’s Communications Department’s “Living with Nature” releases highlight outdoor safety and tips.

On Thursday, the city released a new installment to the series focusing on water safety and tips from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).

Before heading out on a river or lake, Matt Cameron with the TWRA suggests making sure your boat or watercraft is in good, working condition, everyone is wearing a life jacket and letting someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back home.

“Sometimes when you let things sit all year, you launch them and you’ll have a problem like a leak or engine trouble,” said Cameron. “Make sure your maintenance is caught up and that you have safety equipment on board and in good condition as well.”

Recommended and required items to have on a boat include the following.

  • U.S. Coast Guard-rated life jacket for all passengers, whether on the boat or in the water (required)
  • Fire extinguisher (required)
  • Throwable device, ring buoy or floating cushion (required for vessels 16 feet or longer)
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Flares
  • Waterproof container for a phone
  • Air horn or whistle

“If a boat starts sinking or is capsized, you may not have time to put your lifejacket on,” Cameron said. “You may find yourself in the water unexpectedly and that’s where wearing the life jacket could make the difference between life and death.”

Cameron suggested carrying a whistle due to it being cheap and attachable to a life jacket or key ring. “People are going to hear [a whistle] further away than if you just yell,” Cameron said.

Below are water safety tips from the “Living with Nature” series.

  • Watch the weather and avoid being out in a storm
  • Have a proper spotter on board, especially when towing someone
  • If you swim from a boat, make sure the boat is anchored
  • Be mindful of the turning radius of your boat
  • Keep a sober operator and never operate a boat while drunk

To read other parts of the series, click here.