–Take a boat safety class
–Use life jackets properly
–Understand the weather
–Use common sense
–It helps to have a mate
The U.S. Coast Guard requires the following for every vessel:
–A personal flotation device for each person on board. (Personal-flotation-device laws for children vary by state.)
–A sound-producing device, such as a bell, horn or whistle.
–At least one approved fire extinguisher on board.
–Approved visual distress signals.
It is also important to know the weather forecast and comply with all navigation aids, speed limits and exclusion zones.
And always be aware of the wake you create. Enter anchoring or marina areas at a slow speed, and remember ‘red, right, returning,’ when entering a harbor, keep red navigational aids (buoys, day marks, lights) on your right when passing them.
One of the most common causes of accidents, casualties and fatalities on the water is because of alcohol. A BWI is just as bad, if not worse than a DWI. The limit you’re allowed to have is the same as if you were driving a car. If you are over the limit, and a coast guard pulls you over, you could lose your boating license, your drivers license, pay hefty fines, and possibly serve jail time.
Don’t forget that when you are drinking in the sun, the side affects are worse, and you may not even notice it. Drinking impairs not only the way you drive, but the way you react. You can’t swim as well, or handle emergency situations the proper way.
The Tennessee mandatory boating education law is similar to the driver’s license law. You acquire the study materials, study, and then take an approved boating safety exam administered by an approved representative of the TWRA.
For more information, go online to <http://www.tn.gov/twra/boated.html>.