KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Two drownings on Douglas Lake this weekend reminded people in East Tennessee the importance of life vests and lake safety.
Water deaths have been increasingly on the rise in Tennessee. The TWRA reported 24 last year, up from 19 the year before.
"Just be safe out there. Be aware that there are other people on the water that may not know the roads of the water and may not be avid boaters. So the main thing is to watch out for other people while you're out there, and make sure you're operating safely, but also watching the guy beside you," said Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteer Richard Swan.
And that includes wearing life vests. Tennessee law requires that boats carry a properly fitting life vest for every person on board. Children 12 and under must wear one at all times. For others, it's required for activities outside of the boat.
"It is required to wear a life jacket. Wake boarding, all of the other things, jet skiing. But a lot of the time we don't enforce that or make sure people are doing that when we're in our own boat," said Swan.
With so many lakes in our area, boating often becomes a family activity and a chance for parents to teach their kids the importance of safety.
"He's always taught me, you know, and always be aware of what's around you and always wear a life jacket. And you know, learning how to swim is always really important," said Brandon Smith.
Smith's been boating his entire life, just like his dad Chris.
"You're on the water. If you have an accident, you're there. There's not... you can't pull off on the side of the road. You're in the water. So it's a little different atmosphere out there. You just gotta be safe and not crazy," said Chris Smith.
Experts also stress the importance of knowing your boat's in good working order before taking to the waterways.