Memorial Day Weekend Safety Tips for Tennessee Boaters


Memorial Day weekend is considered by many to be the unofficial kickoff to the summer boating season and it has already been a deadly start in Tennessee.

Ten deaths have occurred on Tennessee waterways, two more than at the same time in 2021.

There were two deaths this past weekend – one on Lake Kentucky and another on Lake Nickajack.

The average annual number of deaths on Tennessee’s waterways from 2016 to 2020 was 20.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is participating in National Safe Boating Week 2022, promoting safe activity on waterways as well as the wearing of life jackets.

“We want to continue to emphasize that the single most important step one can take to avoid drowning in a boat is to wear a life jacket,” said Betsy Woods, TWRA’s boating training coordinator. “We encourage our boaters to enjoy their time on the water in a safe and responsible manner.”

LAKE KENTUCKY DEATH:60-year-old Tennessee man found dead after fishing on Kentucky Lake

DEATH OF NICKAJACK:24-year-old man found dead in Lake Nickajack by Tennessee wildlife officers

SINGLE TROUT:Rainbow trout with unique characteristics caught at Spring Creek in Tennessee

Here are some security tips recommended by TWRA:

Take a safety course

Individuals can gain valuable knowledge and experience on the water in a boating safety course with many options for novice to experienced boaters.

For more information on TWRA boating safety courses, visit

Equipment check

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.

Floating plane

Prepare a float plan, always briefing someone ashore of the trip itinerary, including operator and passenger information, boat type and registration, and on-board communications equipment.

Life vest

Make sure everyone on board wears a life jacket without exception. A stowed lifejacket is useless in an emergency.

Cut the engine

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.

Weather report

Watch the weather. Always check the forecast before you set out on the water and frequently during the trip.


Know what is happening around you at all times. Nearly a quarter of all boating accidents reported in 2021 were caused by operator inattention or improper supervision.

Speed ​​limits

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.

Boating under the influence

Never sail under the influence. A BUI is implicated in a third of all boating-related fatalities. Always designate a sober skipper.

Staying in touch

Stay in touch by having 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.

Contact Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 or on Twitter @MIkeOrganWriter.


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