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Boating accidents: safety tips to help prevent injuries and fatalities

The summer boating season is well underway. We hope you enjoy getting out on the water, whether it's Chickamauga Lake, Nickajack Lake, the Tennessee River, or elsewhere,

With nearly two months of summer left, it's a good time to take note of some boating safety tips, especially considering the recent increase in fatal accidents, both in Tennessee and nationally.

Nationally, the number of fatal boating accidents increased substantially last year. From 626 in 2015, the number jumped to 701 in 2016.

The number of boating fatalities also increased in Tennessee. It went from 13 in 2015 to 22 in 2016 - a very substantial increase. Douglas Lake and Norris Lake had three fatal accidents each.

Naturally safety officials are concerned. In Tennessee, the Wildlife Resources Agency (WRA) has a good list of safety tips on its website.

These tips include:

  • Having a life jacket that fits for everyone on board;
  • Making sure anyone under 13 wears a life jacket at all times while out in a boat;
  • Minimizing alcohol use and having a designated sober person as boat operator;
  • Maintaining a safe speed; and
  • Keeping proper lookout.

The WRA also encourages boat operators to take a safety course.

We know you are probably very committed to responsible boating. But it's still worth reviewing the WRA's safety tips.

To be sure, it isn't always possible to protect yourself from people who do not stay safe. Operator inexperience or excessive alcohol use can put you at risk from another boat at any time. But knowing the safety guidelines can give you and your family the best chance of staying safe while you're out enjoying your time on the water.

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