The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA) will kick-off boating season this Memorial Weekend.
Wildlife Officer Dustin Buttram said boaters should remember to keep safe boating practices.
“This weekend is looking like good weather, but always have a float plan. Look at the weather. If you are on the lake and a storm pops up, we see a rush of people trying to get to safety,” Buttram said. “And a lot of times we see accidents occur during that. So having a good float plan is the key to having a safe boating trip so you know what the weather is doing, how to schedule your trip and return safely.”
The TWRA reports 23 people died in boating-related accidents last year, an increase from 16 reported in 2017.
Buttram encourages boaters to be mindful while boating and share the waterways this season.
“We have seen an increase in paddle sports across Tennessee, especially on some of the river waterways,” Buttram said. “There are also these rental companies that are coming in and dropping a lot of boats, renting a lot of boats, canoes, kayaks, to the public. And it is definitely increasing our waterway traffic.”
Buttram said the TWRA has received an increasing number of emergency calls with paddle boats.
“We are getting a lot of calls on these paddle craft sports where a canoe will flip or a kayak will flip, and we get a call to come down there,” Buttram said. “I encourage the callers and observers that see this to really assess the situation before calling.”
Buttram said unnecessary calls can hold up EMS and rescue workers.