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Editorial: Make safety a priority on the lake

Though crashes on boats happen less frequently than in cars, it is equally important to make sure to use caution and safety in them when out on the lake.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, an average of 16 people die in boating accidents each year in the state. In addition, many more people suffered injuries and hundreds of thousands of dollars of property damage resulted from nonfatal boating mishaps.

Most boating fatalities happen in small, open boats powered by outboard motors or in non motorized canoes, according to the state agency. The most common fatalities involved the boat capsizing or someone falling overboard.

The two most common types of nonfatal boating accidents are collisions and water sports accidents.

No matter what kind of watercraft you’re operating, the DNR advises people to use the following principles in its boating and water safety guide:

• Safety first.

• Prepare for the worst but anticipate the best.

• Know the laws of the state.

It is the boat operator’s responsibility to know the local, state and federal regulations for the type of watercraft he or she is operating and to have and know how to use the safety equipment required by law.

The operator is also in charge of his or her passengers — and their behavior — and must maintain a proper lookout at all times.

Respect all others out on the lake as well, whether they are fishing, waterskiing or doing some other form of recreation.

Help make safety a priority.