Stay safe on the water

Members of Coffee County Rescue Squad Les Blackford, Hannah Darnell, Eric Francisco, Neal Simmons, Jennifer Simmons, Dustin Darnell, Jamie McCullough, LeAnn McCullough, Doris Pike and Leonard Pike raise a boat at Barton Springs on June 29.

Neal Simmons, chief of the Coffee County Rescue Squad, reminds boaters to stay sober on the water and always wear life jackets.

It’s also important to check the capacity of the boat and to make sure all plugs are in.

Last week, a man who went into the water without a life jacket drowned on Normandy Lake. Two weeks ago, a boat sunk at Barton Springs.

“The boat went under the water,” Simmons said. “The boat was on the bottom, and we got it up. That happens quite often.”

Simmons reminded boaters to avoid overloading their boats and to put the plugs in before they go on the lake.

“Make sure you don’t have too much weight on the boat, and make sure you have the plugs in,” he said. “Always make sure you have you life jacket on.”

Staying sober is essential. When people are drinking, their reactions are much slower, said Simmons. When on a boat or swimming, individuals have to be focused and be able to react quickly.


Operation Dry Water

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency participated in Operation Dry Water, July 5-7. Operation Dry Water is a national weekend of Boating Under the Influence (BUI) awareness and enforcement campaign directed toward reducing alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities.

Operation Dry Water is held annually near the Fourth of July holiday to give BUI enforcement high visibility during the peak boating season. The TWRA teamed up with the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). Operation Dry Water was started by the NASBLA in 2009. It has been a highly successful campaign drawing public attention to the dangers of boating under the influence.

As part of the operation, TWRA boating officers saturated high traffic areas on reservoirs across the state. Along with the use of life jackets and other safety practices, officers want boaters to be aware of the effects and ramifications of alcohol use.

The TWRA intensified efforts to detect and apprehend boat operators who are operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In 2018, during Operation Dry Water, there were nine boating under the influence (BUI) arrests across Tennessee.