Drowning remains the leading cause of death for recreational boaters each year, and the majority of drowning victims in recreational boating accidents are not wearing life jackets. (Photo: Hamilton County Sheriff's Office)

The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office has kicked off National Safe Boating Week by offering tips to avoid danger on the water this summer.

Proper planning for a day of boating begins before even leaving the home, according to a news release.

Getting a free vessel safety check, taking a safe boating course at the beginning of the season, filing a float plan with a trusted family member or friend, and checking the weather before boating are key steps to an enjoyable time. 

The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office has provided boating tips to help keep area residents safe this summer. (Photo: Hamilton County Sheriff's Office)

On average, 650 people die each year in boating-related accidents, according to the news release.

The vast majority of these accidents are caused by human error or poor judgment and not by the boat, equipment or environment.

Drowning remains the leading cause of death for recreational boaters each year, and the majority of drowning victims in recreational boating accidents are not wearing life jackets.

The U.S. Coast Guard and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency offer these tips for staying safe on the water:

—Every boater should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket at all times while boating. 

—Safe and responsible boating includes never operating a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and knowing basic navigation rules.

—Be aware of carbon monoxide, especially in boats with cabins.

—Get your boat checked for free by a Coast Guard Auxiliary Division (click here for information).

—Know and obey the rules of the road when trailering boats.

—Watch the weather and know how it can affect you and your boating operations.

—Always be on the lookout for fishermen, obstructions, swimmers and debris.

—Reduce speeds in harbors, marinas and confined areas.

—Avoid excessive speeds.

—Do not make sharp turns at high speeds.

—Watch your wake and be aware of the damage that can come from it.

—In rough water, stay low in the boat and cross waves at a slight angle.

—Keep red buoys on your right when traveling upstream.

Additionally, Tennessee boating regulations require that boaters have specific items in their boats at all times, according to the news release.

The list includes life jackets, a fire extinguisher, a throw cushion and registration.

There are five regulations regarding life jackets:

—All children 12 years of age and younger are required to wear a Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device while on the open deck of a recreational boat except when anchored, moored or aground.

—There must be one wearable device of the appropriate size for each person on the boat or each person being towed.

—Each device must be readily accessible; life jackets cannot be hidden below deck or stored in plastic bags.

—Each device must be U.S. Coast Guard-approved and in good condition.

—Boats 16 feet in length or over must also be equipped with one throwable personal flotation device.

For more information about boating safety, click here.