While biking and tanning are great ways to enjoy the sun, most people in Minnesota are called to the water in the summer—we’ve got 10,000 lakes, after all! Fishing, skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, and leisurely cruises are all great summer activities, but boat safety is essential to preventing accidents on the open water.
Life Jacket Safety
Life jackets are typically the first thing people think of when boat safety is mentioned, and for good reason. In Minnesota, there are laws dictating how many life jackets per person need to be on board. You should also make sure your passengers know where the flotation devices are located, as well as how to use them. Some boats feature seats that can be used as flotation devices—know if this applies to your boat so you can use them in an emergency.
It’s not required for all boats to carry visual distress signals (VDS), but it’s never a bad idea—just stay up to date on the regulations. Your boat must have lights if you are operating it at night, but in the event of an emergency, signaling devices can be the difference between disaster and inconvenience. In the event of an accident or boating malfunction, sound-producing devices, such as airhorns, can be more beneficial, but in an emergency, you should use all items at your disposal to get help.
Preventing Invasive Species
Recent years have seen a drastic rise in the number of lakes infested with aquatic invaders. Because of this, it’s become increasingly important to properly clean your watercraft before entering another body of water. Aquatic invaders are nothing to take lightly—their presence in an ecosystem can be catastrophic for native plants and animals, so make boat cleanliness a top priority this summer.
Boat Safety Checklist
Getting ready for a trip to the lake? Make sure you’ve packed everything you need for a safe and fun trip:
- Life jackets
- Throwable flotation devices
- Signaling devices
- Fire extinguisher
- First aid kit
- Tool kit
- Bottled water
- Utility knife
- Weather radar
- Extra fuel and oil
- Documentation and registration
For more tips on summer safety, check out our post on camping safety.