Summer brings boater traffic

BOONE LAKE, TN. - The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency estimates Boone Lake saw hundreds of boats over Memorial Day weekend.

And summer traffic is just beginning.

"Memorial Day is our kickoff to boating season, and it will run through Sept. 1, Labor Day, so we see a high increase of traffic on all of our local waterways," says Matt Swecker, a district 42 boating officer.

Busy waters mean it's more important to focus on safety, and the TWRA is actively inspecting boats this time of year.
"We do do stops and some inspections on vessels, checking for safety equipment, fire extinguisher on board the vessel, throw cushion, and a proper number of PFD's," Swecker says.

Jerry Frank owns Boone Lake Marina. He offers free boat inspections so his customers are safe leaving the dock.

"Unsafe wise you would be looking at not having all of your safety gear on board, life jackets, cushions, fire extinguishers, whistles, riding too close to the docks," Frank says.

Doug Sams got his first boat in 2005. The first thing he does when he gets on his boat is check for all TWRA-required equipment.

"They want to make sure everybody on board has a life jacket, they want to make sure there is a rowable, that's something you can throw if somebody goes overboard, and they want to see a fire extinguisher and registration," Sams says.

The biggest problem he sees is children without life jackets on.

"If people were wearing life jackets, 99 percent of the drowning accidents would be prevented," he says.

Tennessee state officials say that the state overall is not off to a good start. Last year, in 2013, there were 25 boating-related deaths. There are already 7 this year alone.

Shane Wilcox boats with his family once a week. He makes the experience as safe as possible for his kids.

"Not just be safe yourself, but make sure everyone else is being safe and you know just watch for other boats and sea doo, jet skis and stuff," Wilcox says.

TWRA officers also say its important to watch out for logs and other debris while boating.

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