The weather forecast for Memorial Day looks idyllic, which will create busy waterways throughout the state. Given that, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds boaters to keep safety in mind.
So far this year, two people have died on the water. DNR officials say all boaters have a role to play in keeping Minnesota’s lakes and rivers safe.
“We’ve seen almost-unprecedented pressure on our state’s waterways the past few years, and there’s no reason to think anything will be different this year,” said Lt. Adam Block, Enforcement Division boating law administrator. “It’s great to see people enjoying the best of our natural resources but before they do, we ask them to take a few moments to ensure every boat ride is a safe boat ride.”
With boaters of all experience and skill levels sharing Minnesota’s waterways, it’s up to every boater to do their part to ensure everyone makes it home at the end of the day. These safety tips can help make the start of the summer boating season fun, memorable and safe:
- Wear a life jacket, don’t just bring it. Ninety percent of boating fatality victims in the state weren’t wearing a life jacket. While the law requires children under 10 to wear a life jacket while the boat is underway, wearing a life jacket is the best way boaters of all ages can help ensure they get home safely.
- Leave the alcohol on shore. Not only is boating under the influence illegal, it’s also the single greatest factor in fatal boating accidents.
- Check safety equipment. Make sure life jackets fit and are in good condition, and check to ensure your boat’s navigation lights, sound-producing devices, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors are in good condition. Also, inspect the engine cut-off lanyard and make sure to wear it when the boat is underway.
- Pay attention to high water. Water levels in waterways throughout the state are high this year. High water can make access difficult, but also present safety risks by hiding hazards beneath the water’s surface.
- Own your wake. Large wakes can have environmental consequences (causing shoreline erosion, for example) and present dangers to other boaters, paddlers and swimmers.
- Brush up on the rules. Read the 2022 Minnesota Boating Guide and take an online education course to help increase your knowledge. More information, including boater education requirements and information on safe boating, is on the boat and water safety page of the DNR website.