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HCSO, Tennessee Aquarium, TWRA, & TVA Police Host Joint National Water Safety Month Event

May 1, 2024

Hamilton County, TN – Hamilton County is known for its many natural amenities, especially the Tennessee River and the many local lakes that make up our beautiful community. With all these amazing waterways right at our doorstep, it is very important to recognize that May has been designated as National Water Safety Month and May 18th – 24th has been designated as National Safe Boating Week.

In accordance with this, earlier this morning the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, in a joint partnership with the Tennessee Aquarium, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), and TVA Police, hosted a static display and press conference in recognition of National Water Safety Month and National Safe Boating Week. Today’s event was held at the Tennessee Aquarium.

Today’s event included the following speakers who discussed a variety of water-based safety topics:

  • Sheriff Austin Garrett
  • TWRA District Boating Officer David Holt
  • TVA Senior Media Specialist Scott Fiedler

According to the TWRA’s 2023 Tennessee Boating Incident Statistical Report, the body of water with the largest reported number of boating related incidents was the Chickamauga Reservoir with (13) incidents and the county with the most boating related incidents cumulatively was Hamilton County with (26) reported incidents. Across the State of Tennessee, there were (163) reported boat related incidents in 2023.

The report also stated the leading type of boating related incident was collisions with a vessel which totaled (89). Lastly, the TWRA reports there were (27) boating fatalities in 2023 state-wide, (1) of which occurred in Hamilton County. The state-wide numbers for 2023 fatalities were slightly lower than the previous year with (29) in 2022. Year to date 2024, Hamilton County has experienced (1) boat-related fatality.

For more information or to view a copy of this report, please visit:  https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/twra/documents/boating/2023-Tennessee-Boating-Incident-Report.pdf

“With summer just around the corner, many of us will be swimming and enjoying our local lakes and rivers. In recognition of National Water Safety Month, the HCSO encourages you to be safe and make responsible choices in regards to how you and your family choose to enjoy our many water-based amenities. Our Marine Patrol Unit, along with our partners, in the TWRA and TVA Police, will be out on the water ensuring your safety and helping to keep our community safe. Remember, from highways to our county waterways, the HCSO is here to keep you safe. Make responsible decisions and never operate a boat while impaired. If you do, the HCSO is committed to removing you from our waterways.” stated Sheriff Austin Garrett.

Closer to home, in 2023, the HCSO Marine Patrol Unit provided support and law enforcement-based operations for (13) special events and holiday weekends including Riverbend, Ironman, Memorial Day, and July 4th. Marine Patrol personnel responded to (44) calls for service, conducted (70) boating checks, issued (70) verbal warnings, and cited (2) boats for various infractions.

The HCSO and our partners, TWRA and TVA Police, work together to provide the only law enforcement operations in Hamilton County on the water in order to keep you safe. Help do your part by keeping Hamilton County’s waterways safe as we approach summer!

The HCSO Marine Patrol Unit and our partners would like to remind boaters of the following:

  • Have a designated operator and never operate a vessel under the influence
  • Adults should consider wearing their U.S. Coastguard certified life jacket
  • Children 12 and under must wear a life jacket
  • File a float plan. Let someone know your boating plans for the day
  • Check weather conditions before heading to the water
  • Perform a safety check before heading out on the water
  • Be sure to have all proper safety equipment onboard
  • Follow all navigational rules

For those who own residential pools or swim in our lakes and streams, please remember the following:

  • Make sure adults and children who are boating or swimming wear a Coast Guard approved PFD or life jacket
  • Never swim alone, always swim with a buddy
  • Always supervise swimmers, especially children at all times
  • Enter the water feet first
  • Never dive headfirst into shallow pool or in a lake where the depth is not determined
  • Stay away from pool drains and grates
  • Never swim while impaired or intoxicated
  • Make sure your pool fence is locked at all times to avoid accidents
  • Make sure to know CPR

Today’s press conference was held at the Tennessee Aquarium due to its longstanding connection to our community and its commitment to the preservation of our natural water resources including our beautiful lakes, streams, rivers, and estuaries and the wildlife that call them home.

To learn more about how to keep you and your family safe while enjoying the water, please visit:  https://www.redcross.org/about-us/news-and-events/news/water-safety-month-how-to-be-safe-in-and-around-the-water.html

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