We love being on the water. On a typical weekend morning, John is on his jet ski at sunrise ready to cruise every nook and cranny of Tims Ford Lake. The day continues with several boat rides during the day, maybe pulling a knee boarder or a skier, and we usually wrap up with a short evening cruise after dinner. And while we love the water, we also respect it. Joy’s grandfather drowned in a boating accident and every year Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) has to deal with accidents and tragedies. In fact, over Memorial Day weekend, TWRA made 21 boating under the influence arrests, worked five injury accidents and six property damage accidents, and two teens have already drowned on Middle Tennessee lakes this summer. Here are the top 5 things you should and should not do while on the water.
- Never swim alone and wear your life jacket while participating in water sports on a lake. Unlike a pool where rescuers can easily see and reach a victim, the depth and water clarity of lakes make rescues difficult. For example, Tims Ford has a water depth of 150 feet in some places. So, always have a life jacket for every person riding in a boat.
- Enjoy alcohol in moderation. Skiiers, tubers, knee-boarders, wake-boarders, boat surfers, swimmers, etc. should not be impaired while enjoying these sports, and if you are driving a water craft, you can be arrested for boating under the influence. The threshold is a BAC of 0.08%, and the penalties are as follows: $2,500 fine for the first and second boating under the influence offenses and $5,000 fine for the third offense. In addition, a conviction could result in a jail sentence of up to one year and the loss of operating privileges for up to 10 years. In addition to these state penalties, violators may also be subject to federal penalties.
- If you own a dock, install a voltage meter to ensure the water around your dock is safe. While every dock owner should have routine checks of their electrical, a voltage meter will detect a problem in between checks and will also alert you if voltage is leaking into the water from a neighboring dock.
- Drive your watercraft sensibly. This means avoid excessive speeds, do not turn suddenly and sharply, maintain a proper lookout and do not follow too closely especially if the boat in front of you is pulling a skier, etc. It is a violation, punishable by a $2,500 fine and up to six months in jail, to jump the wake of another vessel within 100 feet.
- Do not allow riders on the bow, gunwales or transom of your boat. It is dangerous and a violation of Tennessee boating laws. Again, the violation is punishable by a fine of $2,500 and possibly six months in jail.
We hope everyone has a chance to get out and enjoy Tennessee lakes and rivers this summer, but please stay safe. If you are injured in an accident, we are here to help. Call us at any of the numbers below: