Boat & Water Safety

Laws & Regulations


Water recreation

Cold water dangers

Download Cold Water Kills brochure This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it.

man in cold waterOver 30 percent of boating fatalities in Minnesota happen in cold water with a victim not wearing a life jacket.

Falls overboard and capsizing are still the most common cause of boating fatalities in the state.

Falling into icy water can be deadly because many boaters do not think about the effects of cold water immersion. Wearing your life jacket could be the single most important factor in surviving cold water immersion.

Cold water immersion can kill in several ways, and most people die long before they become hypothermic.


Cold shock response

Within the first 2 to 3 minutes:

Swim failure

Within the first 30 minutes:

Immersion hypothermia

After at least 30 minutes of immersion:

Fight for survival

If you are wearing a life jacket, the 1-10-1 principle may save your life:

1 Minute

10 Minutes of meaningful moment

1 Hour (or more) of useful consciousness

Stay with the boat

If the boat capsizes or the victim fall overboard, stay with the boat and try to reboard.

Slowing heat loss

Practice H.E.L.P in a pool first, before depending on it in an emergency.


Be a safe boater

Wear a life jacket- Minnesota law requires a wearable U.S. Coast Guard Approved life jacket for each person on board a watercraft.

Prevent capsizing- Reduce speed in rough water, don't overload a boat, secure loads from shifting and adjust for changing conditions.

Prevent falls overboard- Remain seated while underway, avoid a sudden shift in weight.

File a float plan- Leave it with a responsible person. Include a description of your boat, names of passengers, boating location, time of return and description of your car and where it is parked. Tell the person to call 911 if you don't return at the expected time.

Brief passengers – Everyone should know where all safety equipment is ( and how to use it), and how to start, stop and steer a boat.

Be prepared- Always wear a life jacket every time you step on a boat. Trying to put your life jacket on in the water is extremely difficult (if not impossible) and costs precious time and energy.

Carry a whistle or horn- Minnesota law requires a whistle or horn on all motorboats 16 feet or longer.

Keep an eye on the sky- No boater should ever set out in a storm.

Boaters should also: