DNR encourages a safety mindset as recreational boating season kicks off

Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, May 28, 2024

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Recreational boating season has officially begun, when water recreation enthusiasts of all types join the anglers, paddlers and others who’ve been on the water now for weeks.

All users have a role in keeping Minnesota’s lakes and rivers safe, said Lt. Eric Sullivan, supervisor of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Enforcement Division’s newly created statewide Marine Unit. The unit includes five conservation officers whose overall responsibility is keeping the state’s waterways safe.

“Few states have the water-recreation resources that Minnesota does, and fewer still have as many registered watercrafts as we do,” Sullivan said in a news release. “It’s great that so many people connect with the outdoors on the water — we just want to make sure they’re being safe so everyone can make positive memories.”

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Following are safety tips for all boaters to keep in mind to ensure a fun, memorable and successful boating season:

  • Wear a life jacket, don’t just bring it. State law requires children under 10 wear a life jacket when the boat is underway, but wearing one is the best way for people of all ages to survive an accidental fall into the water. (Ninety percent of victims in boating fatalities were not wearing a life jacket.)
  • Leave alcohol on shore. Operating a boat under the influence is the single greatest factor in fatal boating accidents. It’s also illegal.
  • Check safety equipment. Make sure life jackets are in good condition and fit the wearer. On motorboats, ensure carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, navigation lights and sound-producing devices are in good condition. Inspect the engine cut-off lanyard and wear it anytime the boat is underway.
  • Be cognizant of potentially high water, which can present safety risks by hiding hazards beneath the surface of the water.
  • Own your wake. Large wakes can negatively affect the shoreline and be hazardous to other people recreating on the water.
  • Take an online education course (mndnr.gov/safety/boatwater/education.html) to increase your knowledge. More information, including boater education requirements and information on safe boating, is on the boating safety webpage of the DNR website (gov/safety/boatwater).
  • Brush up on the rules. Read the 2024 Minnesota Boating Guide (gov/rlp/regulations/boatwater/boatingguide.pdf).