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Wisconsin DNR reminds public to boat responsibly, wear life jackets

National Safe Boating Week kicks off Saturday.
National Safe Boating Week kicks off Saturday.(WDAM)
Published: May. 21, 2022 at 4:02 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - National Safe Boating Week kicks off Saturday, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is reminding boaters that wearing a life jacket could save your life.

The DNR said many people think drowning can’t happen to them, but most people who drown in boating accidents do know how to swim. However, they become incapacitated in the water if they are injured, unconscious, exhausted or weighed down by clothing.

So far in 2022, four people have already died in boating accidents, according to the DNR. They said 25 people died in 2021.

Operator inexperience, inattention, recklessness and speeding are the four leading causes of tragic boating crashes, but the leading cause of death is drowning. Nationally, 80 percent of boating-related fatalities are the direct result of drowning.

With Wisconsin’s summer boating culture comes the responsibility of making sure to operate your boat in a safe and responsible way. Part of that is making sure there are life jackets on board for each passenger.

“Safety is an important part of water fun,” DNR Boating Law Administrator Lt. Darren Kuhn said. “Wisconsin rivers and lakes can be relaxing and family-friendly places to spend a summer day when you put safety first and respect the water.”

Statistics show that boaters who wear life jackets and take boater safety courses are most likely to stay safe on Wisconsin waters.

The DNR recommends following these water safety tips to enjoy Wisconsin’s open waters this summer:

  • Sign up to take an online boater education course.
  • Always wear a properly-fitted life jacket that is snug and fastened when you’re on or near the water.
  • Enjoy the waters sober and know your limits.
  • River shorelines and sandbars pose unseen dangers. Higher, fast-moving water can tax an individual’s boating, paddling and swimming skills.
  • Keep an eye on the weather, and always let someone know where you are going.
  • Be ready for the unexpected, and always wear your life jacket.

National Safe Boating Week is May 21-27.

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