(KNSI) – The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says 2021 has been a deadly year for boaters.
Lisa Dugan is the MNR Recreation Safety Awareness Coordinator. She tells KNSI that 17 people have died in boating-related incidents this year, making it the highest since 2005. With weeks of open water remaining this year and the waterfowl season open, this number could increase.
Dugan says hunters are often in remote locations and help can be far away. She says hunters need to take extra safety and precautions, so if anything happens, they give themselves “the best chance of survival, the best chance of getting out.” Wearing a life jacket, and not just having it on the boat, is the best thing you can do to stay safe.
She says a personal flotation device is better than nothing, but “the foam-filled life jackets, the portable foam life jackets that people are used to; type three life jackets. These are really good for the cold water season as they also help insulate the heat, they are maintenance free.
She says inflatable life jackets are okay, but they need to be maintained and sometimes in cold water not fully inflate.
Also, with climate change in Minnesota, sometimes if hunters are on a larger lake it will take time to get back to the boat launch. Dugan says it doesn’t take much to knock over a duck loaded with gear, so make sure your boat isn’t overloaded.
If your boat capsizes, Dugan says to remember the 1-10-1 rule. “Take a minute to control your breathing, stay calm and assess the situation. Take the next ten minutes for meaningful movement, which means making a plan. If you don’t have a life jacket, put one on and try to deploy some kind of emergency communication. After that, Dugan says there is about an hour of “useful awareness”, depending on the water temperature. She says people who fall into cold water are more likely to drown than to die from hypothermia.
Dugan says before you head to the launch or dock, tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to be back, so if something does happen Help has a starting point for where to look. .
For more boating safety tips, click here.
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