Experts offer tips on staying safe at the lake - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Experts offer tips on staying safe at the lake

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

As the holiday weekend approaches, there are some important reminders to stay safe when you're out on the water at the lake or river.

Last year, there were 171 boating accidents in Tennessee, and many of those involved inner tubes. In fact, the moment you put a tube on the back of a boat, the potential for injuries goes up.

"Riders have very little control over the direction or the velocity of the speed of the water tube. And they also don't have control over colliding with objects in the water, on the shore or with other riders on the tube," said Lara McKenzie, a pediatric expert at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, OH.

According to researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital, boat injuries involving tubing are up 250 percent. Most of those accidents happen in the warmer months, and many are serious.

"We saw all types of injuries, from head injuries, face injuries, to sprains and strains," McKenzie said.

Experts say you can do a few things to stay safe:

  • Even if you know how to swim, always wear a life jacket.
  • Stick to the manufacturer's limit on how many riders can be on the tube.
  • Use a spotter on the boat to look for potential hazards and to watch to make sure the rider isn't in distress.
  • Drive responsibly, and do not drink before or during operating the boat.
  • Another good thing to keep handy with you: a cell phone. Make sure it's fully charged so if you get into trouble, you can call for help.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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