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2024 National Safe Boating Week, May 18-24; Memorial Day Weekend, May 25-27

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will participant in the 2024 National Safe Boating Week, May 18-24, reminding all boaters to brush up on boating safety skills and prepare for the boating season. This observance week is the annual kick-off of the Safe Boating Campaign, a global awareness effort that encourages boaters to make the most of their boating adventure by being responsible.

National Safe Boating Week is held each year on the week prior to Memorial Day weekend. Boating partners across the United States and Canada are teaming up to emphasize safe boating practices, including wearing life jackets for National Safe Boating Week and throughout the 2024 boating season. The TWRA and partner organizations continue to prioritize educating the boating community about the importance of wearing life jackets and available options that are more lightweight and comfortable.

“TWRA is committed in its mission to make Tennessee waterways safe for everyone to enjoy,” said TWRA Boating Education Coordinator Betsy Woods. “Be sure to boat responsibly, keep alcohol at a minimum, make sure your boat is in good working order and by all means wear your life jacket, it may indeed save your life. Boating is a wonderful activity for family and friends, so have fun but do so in a safe manner.”

Tennessee offers boating enthusiasts an abundance of opportunities to enjoy the resources across the state. Memorial Day weekend is May 25-27 and viewed as the unofficial start to the summer boating season.

TWRA reports there has been a continued increase in traffic on the state’s lakes and rivers the last few years, especially in paddlecraft. Two of the three boating-related fatalities in the state this year have involved paddlecraft.

Recommended tips for boaters:

  • Take a boating safety course. Gain valuable knowledge and on-water experience in a boating safety course with many options for novice to experienced boaters.
  • Check equipment. Schedule a free vessel safety check with local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons to make sure all essential equipment is present, working and in good condition.
  • Make a float plan. Always let someone on shore know the trip itinerary, including operator and passenger information, boat type and registration, and communication equipment on board.
  • Wear a life jacket. Make sure everyone wears a life jacket – every time. A stowed life jacket is no use in an emergency.
  • Use an engine cut-off device. An engine cut-off device, or engine cut-off switch, is a proven safety device to stop the boat’s engine should the operator unexpectedly fall overboard.
  • Watch the weather. Always check the forecast before departing on the water and frequently during the excursion.
  • Know what’s going on around you at all times. Nearly a quarter of all reported boating accidents last year were caused by operator inattention or improper lookout.
  • Know where you’re going and travel at safe speeds. Be familiar with the area, local boating speed zones and always travel at a safe speed.
  • Never boat under the influence. A BUI is involved in one-third of all recreational boating fatalities. Always designate a sober skipper.
  • Keep in touch. 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.