Labor Day marks the end of summer boating season for most, but it’s important to remain vigilant while celebrating this weekend.
TWRA reports that Tennessee has already seen 24 boating-related fatalities this year an increase from 17 at the same time last year. The 24 fatalities have surpassed the year total of 22 for 2021. TWRA Wildlife Officer Dustin Buttram:
“Some years just have high trends and we don’t really have an understanding of it,” Buttram said. “Our lakes in the Upper Cumberland have been pretty low on accidents. We’ve not had any major accidents, a few with injuries but no fatalities on our lakes. So it’s been thankfully a pretty quiet year for us.”
Buttram said the key to Labor Day weekend safety is noting the difference in water levels at Upper Cumberland lakes. He said that even if it’s just been a couple of weeks since someone was last on the water, the levels have drastically changed. Before you head out for Labor Day festivities this weekend, Buttram recommends making sure you get familiar with the water you’ll be boating in as new hazards could arise you hadn’t dealt with during high water levels.
“The water levels have dropped really lwo this time of year so there are rocks sticking up that aren’t usually there,” Buttram said. “If you’re not familiar with that lake you could easily run aground especially running at night. There are just more hazards exposed on the waterways when those levels are down.”
TWRA is also set to patrol more for dangerous boating behaviors, such as boating under the influence and lack of life jackets. Repercussions for reckless boating can range anywhere from a verbal warning to a hefty fine depending on the offense. Buttram said that they are encouraging folks to prepare for the weekend by having a designated driver if partaking in drinking.
Buttram said the forecast this weekend calls for a chance of thunderstorms, and asks boaters to be wary before hitting the waters.