NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WKRN) – As temperatures soar and the unofficial start of summer begins, boaters are expected to be on the rise. With more boats, there are more dangers on the water.
According to a statement from the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, 32 boating-related deaths occurred in 2020, the most on Tennessee waters in nearly 40 years. Although the 2020 TWRA boating incident report lists 31 fatalities for 2020, it is still a massive jump from the eight reported fatalities in 2019.
Wildlife Officer Eric Anderson has been dealing with the waters for nearly two decades and says the past year has been the busiest yet.
“We had COVID-19 clearly going on, social distancing was encouraged, a lot of people weren’t in school, weren’t working, maybe had lost their jobs, so there was no better place to move away social than the outdoors, on our waterways in the woods and so on, ”he explained.
The increase in the volume on the water has resulted in an increase in the number of incidents, of which 158 were reported in 2020.
“Statistically, the most common cause of incidents is improper surveillance where maybe two boats approached, did not track the other vessel’s course and collided,” Officer Anderson said. .
Last year, 73 crashes were reported, including 4 fatalities on Old Hickory Lake alone.
Constable Anderson said it was important to keep an eye on you, to know the body of water you are traveling, where you are going. You should also keep in mind that the waterways can change, especially after heavy rains, which can lead to debris.
“It could obviously damage the propeller, it could spin the engine without you doing it unexpectedly and get thrown in or out of the boat,” he said.
Anderson said navigation apps, like Navionics, can be a useful tool for learning more about the body of water you are navigating.
“I think we’re going to see a busy summer and I can’t imagine it getting busier than last year, but that won’t surprise me either… I expect there will be a lot of boats on the water. I know it’s going to be hot, but I hope everyone stays safe and we can have a safe and fun summer.
Constable Anderson said the most important thing you can do to avoid drowning is to wear a life jacket.
National Safe Boating Week 2021 runs May 22-28 and takes place annually the week leading up to Memorial Day weekend.