DNR stresses boating safety ahead of Labor Day weekend; 2020 the deadliest season since 2011

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is advising those who plan to hit the lakes this upcoming Labor Day weekend to use caution while boating.

This season has been the deadliest boating season in a decade, according to the DNR.

"Staying safe on the water isn’t just about checking things off a list – it’s a mindset," said Adam Block, state boating law administrator in the DNR Enforcement Division. "Once you have that mindset, you’ll keep yourself safer and be a positive role model for other people learning how much fun there is to be had on Minnesota’s waters."

As of Thursday, 13 people have lost their lives in boating accidents in Minnesota this year. That’s the highest number of deaths since 2011, at the same point of the year. The two most common causes of boating fatalities in the state are capsizing and falling overboard.

DNR conservation officers remind all boaters to be cognizant of the dangers that arise as the water temperatures fall.

"We’re entering a transition period when the water temperature will start dropping, so now’s the time to prepare," said Rodmen Smith, director of the DNR Enforcement Division. "All boaters should put safety above everything else, but new boaters, in particular, need to understand the risks associated with late-season boating and the steps they can take to minimize those risks."

In 2020, more than 10,000 people completed the online boater education safety course, compared with the annual average of about 7,000. The DNR says motorboat registrations and new personal watercraft registrations are up from 2019 as well, along with more warnings being issued for boating safety violations.

Boaters should keep the following in mind as they hit the water:

  • Wear a life jacket.
  • Distribute weight evenly and abide by the manufacturer’s weight limits to reduce the likelihood of falling overboard.
  • Have a means of communication.
  • Watch the weather to avoid shifting winds or storms.
  • Even strong swimmers can be incapacitated quickly after a fall into cold water.

For more information on staying safe on or around cold water, click here.