DNR urges water safety over holiday weekend

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wants to remind boaters to be safe out on the water during Memorial Day weekend and for the rest of the summer.

Officials say two people have already died on the water this year.

“This is the first time a lot of people are getting on the boat for the year,” said Lt. Phil Mohs, with the DNR.

Mohs says over the last couple of years they’ve seen a huge increase in boaters on the water, but with that comes the need to keep safety top of mind.

“There’s some challenges that present themselves on the water that people don’t always think about,” Mohs said.

The DNR says 18 people died during last year’s boating season. Of those, only two were wearing a life jacket.

“The year before that, none of the victims were wearing a life jacket so it’s a troubling trend to see that these fatalities continue to happen and boaters still aren’t wearing their life jacket,” said Lisa Dugan, the recreation safety outreach coordinator with the DNR.

Dugan wants to remind Minnesotans that a Coast Guard-approved life jacket is required for everyone on board and kids under 10 must wear them.

“It’s the one piece of equipment that you can really put on that’s going to keep your head above water and get you out of a bad situation,” Dugan said.

The DNR also recommends leaving the booze on the shore.

“The No. 1 contributor to boating accidents in Minnesota is alcohol,” Mohs said.

On the unofficial start to summer in Minnesota, the DNR hopes Minnesotans brush up on all the boating rules for the safety of themselves and everyone else.

“We’re out here on the water patrolling to make sure everyone has a safe environment,” Mohs said.

For more information on boating rules, click here.