As thousands of anglers plan to hit the water for this weekend’s fishing opener, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds everyone to be safe and responsible every time they step into a boat.
Lack of life jacket use is the number one contributing factor to boating deaths in Minnesota. Since 2010, 43 people have died in boating accidents, 35 of those victims were not wearing life jackets.
“The message is simple – life jackets save lives,” said Kara Owens, DNR boat and water safety specialist.
Life jackets today with inflatable, belt-pack inflatable and inflatable fishing vest options are comfortable, lightweight and don’t get in the way while an angler casts a line.
“The walleye opener typically falls on Mother’s Day weekend,” Owens said. “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.
With the late thaw, ice or ice chunks could also be an issue on several lakes. Water temperatures are dangerous this time of year, Owens added. Falling into cold water can cause an immediate involuntary gasp for air and the shock of the icy water can also cause cardiac arrest, even for people in good health.
The DNR has a few tips 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.