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Editorial Roundup: Safe boating important for fun time this summer

Minnesotans so love taking to the state’s abundant waters that it’s tough to find a new boat to buy these days.

Record boat sales, the freedom of the outdoors and the loosening of state pandemic restrictions all point to a predictable jump in water-based activity and gatherings this upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

It’s the job of every boat operator to make sure the water is a safe place for everyone on it. All of the new boat owners are among those who need to take their ownership seriously and understand that the fun and freedom of boating also demand responsibility.

Speed boats, pontoons, fishing boats, canoes — all of them have a right to be on the water. Sometimes common sense and good manners often dictate how to act, but all boat operators should be familiar with rules of the water.

And knowing the state-specific laws is important. In Minnesota, certain motorboats must have carbon monoxide detectors and warning stickers. And another law provides enhanced penalties for DWI violations regardless of the vehicle being operated. The Department of Natural Resources says alcohol is the top factor in boating fatalities.

Life jackets save lives and are as important as coolers and sunscreen when it comes to boating. A readily accessible and wearable life jacket is required for each person onboard a boat in Minnesota. And children younger than 10 years old must wear a properly fitted life jacket while a boat is underway.

Along with making sure to be well-versed on operation of the boat and knowing safety procedures, boat operators must be aware of their surroundings, including nearby swimmers or water-skiers, rafts, docks and threatening weather.

Although waterways are much safer than roadways in Minnesota, last year there were 16 boating fatalities and 90 non-fatal accidents, according to the DNR.

If you’re lucky enough to have landed a new boat or already own one or two, keep in mind that the joy of boating can turn tragic with one bad decision.

It’s just the beginning of the boating season; let’s all do our part to make sure everyone on the water has a safe and enjoyable summer.

— Mankato Free Press, May 24

About Editorial Roundup

Editorials from newspapers around the state of Minnesota.

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