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Staying Safe on the Tug Fork River

If you like catching some trophy fish, kayaking, and getting a look at some beautiful wildlife, you don’t have to go too far from home. As the folks over at Friends of the Tug Fork River can confirm, the Tug Fork River has so much to offer. However, if you’re planning to go out on the river, following some basic safety rules and tips is a must! We checked in with river enthusiasts Pete Runyon and John Burchett for a couple of quick and easy safety tips to follow while enjoying time on the river.

The Most Important Rule of All: Remember Your Life Jacket

One thing everyone seems to agree on: always wear a life jacket, or a PFD (personal flotation device) as they’re called in West Virginia and Kentucky boating guides. “For anyone in a boat of any kind you must have a PFD in your possession,” says Pete Runyon, the founder of Friends of the Tug Fork Facebook group. “Wear them, because when you have an emergency you normally don’t have time to put one on.”

Pete also advises wearing a life jacket when wading, even though the Tug tends to be shallow. “Most places in our local area you can walk across the river,” he says,“but there are deep holes all along the river...I wade and fish the river quite a bit. I always wear a life jacket. One time I waded out a little too far and the current took me.”

Use the Buddy System & Watch Out for The Little Ones

It’s also important to keep a buddy with you when you go out. Pete says, “As a rule please do not get on the river alone in a boat. Make sure you have a partner to help in the case of an emergency.

John Burchett, another member of the Facebook group, agrees. “Don’t go alone, the other person can be your rescuer or go for help if needed,” he says. As an alternative, he says if you don’t have a buddy, at least be sure someone knows where you are, and how long you expect to be out. John says, “Call them as soon as possible after you are off the water to let them know you are safe.”

These rules apply doubly to the kids you might be taking with you. “If you take children with you, be sure they’re not very far away at all times. The current can quickly take anyone downstream away from you,” Pete says.

That's Gracie. Her human is John Burchett.

Article Photos Provided by Friends of the Tug Fork River/ John Burchett

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