Being safe and responsible every time one steps on a boat starts with wearing a life jacket. As thousands of anglers take to the water this weekend for the Minnesota fishing opener the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds all boaters of the benefits of wearing a life jacket.
According to the DNR lack of a life jacket is the number one contributing factor to boating deaths in Minnesota. In the last 3 years 43 people have died in boating accidents and 35 of those victims were not wearing a life jacket.
Most people choose not to wear a life jacket because they feel it is restricting and gets in the way while they are fishing. But with advancement in technologies such as belt-pack inflatable and inflatable fishing vests, wearing a life jacket is now comfortable with lightweight material that doesn’t get in the way while fishing. With the Minnesota fishing opener falling on Mothers Day weekend, Kara Owens, water and boating safety specialist says it best; “Give your mom, sister, wife, kids, dad, or brother – anyone – a gift every day by wearing a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket while boating.”
Because of the late thaw this spring and the chance of ice chunks on lakes wearing a life jacket is even more important. Water temperatures will be frigid and a fall in to a lake could cause hypothermia or cardiac arrest very quickly.
Tips from the DNR for safe and responsible boating
– State law requires a U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable life jacket for each person on board all watercraft.
– All children under 10-years-old are required to wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket while a boat is underway.
– Alcohol and boating don’t mix.
– Keep an eye on the weather.
– If a watercraft becomes swamped or capsized, try to reboard or stay with the craft.
– Take a boater course and receive a boat education certificate.
If looking for more information on boating safety or courses click here.