MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds Wisconsin residents and visitors to put safety first by boating sober and wearing a life jacket when out on the water.
Nearly 80% of fatal boating accidents involve drowning. Drowning can happen to even the most experienced swimmers. Most people who drown in boating accidents can swim but become incapacitated in the water, such as being injured, unconscious, exhausted, or weighed down by clothing.
Alcohol consumption is a leading contributor to boating fatalities. If alcohol is involved in your sailing day, ask a designated operator. Driving a boat is no different from driving an automobile.
So far this year, 11 people have died from boating incidents and another 25 have died in 2021. Operator inexperience, inattention, recklessness and speed are the four main causes of tragic personal watercraft accidents. Browsing incident reports to date for 2022 and prior years are available online here.
The easiest and most important thing to remember is to sail sober and wear a life jacket. Statistics show that boaters who wear life jackets and take boater safety courses are the most likely to stay safe on Wisconsin waters.
The new lifejackets are much more comfortable, lightweight and stylish than the bulky orange style most boaters are familiar with. There are innovative options, such as inflatable life jackets, allowing mobility and flexibility for boating, fishing, boating or hunting and are much cooler in hot weather.
Follow the basic safety tips below and enjoy Wisconsin’s beautiful lakes and rivers with your family and friends.
Water Safety Tips
- Register now for an online boater training course.
- Always wear a properly fitted lifejacket with a snug, tied fit when on or near the water. Life jackets will keep you above water if you leave an unexpected fall, if a wave or current overwhelms you, or if you fall out of a boat.
- Enjoy sober waters and know your limits. Alcohol impairs a person’s judgement, reaction time and abilities.
- River banks and sandbanks present unseen dangers. Higher and faster waters can challenge an individual’s navigation, paddling and swimming skills.
- Keep an eye on the weather and let someone know where you’re going.
Remember to always exercise caution when near or on the water and always wear your life jacket. Other boating safety tips are available on the MNR website.