Boating safety stressed in Loudon County

By JOSH AULT 6 News Reporter

LENOIR CITY (WATE) - Warmer weather means more people in East Tennessee will be heading to the lake.

It also means more families will be enjoying boating.

For the first time a boating safety event was held Saturday in Loudon County to teach first time boaters what they need to know to be safe.

Last year a boater died in an accident on Fort Loudon Lake.

For more than 45 years Don Phelps and Frank Curtis, both of Maryville, have been fishing on Fort Loudon Lake.

Both said safety is something they take very seriously.

"We feel like you got to be safe if you're on the water," says Phelps. "You got to watch out for other boaters and people swimming."

Both men said they have witnessed horrible boating accidents. They have some advice if you are going out on the water for the first time.

"I would recommend taking a boater with you," said Curtis. "If it's your first time, take someone with you that is experienced, and get some tips from them"

"I would recommend they get familiar with their boat and make sure they understand how powerful their motor is," said Phelps.

It is also important to know the area where you will be boating. You can buy a fishing map of the lake you will be visiting at a local gas station. You can also ask those who live in the area before taking your boat out on the water.

Saturday's boating safety event was sponsored by Sea Tow.

Sea Tow Owner Chad Walters says they felt it was important because each year someone gets hurt on the water.
"Boating is supposed to be fun, and everybody is supposed to enjoy it," said Walters. "That is the way it should be."

Walters says the top three boating safety rules you should follow include wearing your life jacket, making sure your boat is operating correctly, and making sure you are aware.

"Keep in mind you're not the only boat out there," said Walters, "Especially during the summer. It gets really crowded."

He also recommended everyone should take a safety boating class. If all of these rules are followed, everyone should have a happy and safe time out on the water.

Walter said if you are going to be out on the water, it might be a good idea to learn how to swim.

He also reminded boaters it is against the law for anyone under twelve to be in a boat without a life jacket.

They hope to make the boating safety day an annual event.