It is hard to believe it is Memorial Day weekend. If you are like me, you have been suffering a certain level of time disorientation courtesy of the pandemic. One day inexplicably races by and some weeks feel like they lasted a year. Nonetheless, here we are – Memorial Day weekend. Typically, this is a heavy travel weekend but this year experts predict folks will stay close to home and visit local parks, rivers, lakes or just their own backyard. Whether you are towing your own boat to the river, renting a boat from a lake marina or heading to your lake house or cabin, we wanted to remind you of some incredibly important safety tips as the boating season officially gets underway:
- Slow down on your way to the water. Fatal accidents have jumped dramatically during the pandemic. With less congestion on the roads, some drivers have begun engaging in excessive levels of speeding and other reckless behavior.
- Once you are on the water, make sure everyone has a life jacket. Tennessee law requires all children under age 12 must wear a life jacket on the open water.
- Boats operating between sunset and sunrise must use appropriate lighting when they are underway or anchored. Because jet skis do not have lighting, they should not be operated after sundown or before sunrise.
- Be mindful of carbon monoxide hazards. Do not swim near or under the back deck or swim platform. Fumes can build up in these areas and can be dangerous for up to 15 minutes even after the boat is turned off.
- Do not drink and operate watercraft. Tennessee has an implied consent law which requires you to consent to a BAC test or face separate penalties for the failure to do so.
- Before you start the boating season, check with your insurance agent to make sure you have adequate boating insurance. Did you know you are responsible for any harm caused by your boat even if you were not driving or even present at the time of the accident? The only exception is if the boat was taken without your consent.
- Do not engage in reckless operation of a watercraft. Under Tennessee law, the following are just some actions that are considered reckless:
- Towing a skier in a crowded area i.e., where a fallen skier is likely to be hit by another watercraft;
- Using a jet ski to jump the immediate wake of a boat or other watercraft;
- Excessive speed in crowded areas or areas of limited visibility;
- Operating a boat with overloaded capacity;
- Operating a boat in a swimming area;
- Do not operate a watercraft without a license if you were born after January 1, 1989.
- Skiing is not allowed from sunset to sunrise and skiers (also includes surfers, tubers, wake-boarders) must wear an appropriate life jacket.
- If a boat is in motion, no one is allowed to sit on the deck, gunwales or transom of the boat.