When you live on one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes, most likely you have some sort of watercraft to enjoy on the water. Whether it be jet skis, fishing boat, or yacht, one thing is for sure, safety is key to preventing accidents.
The Personal Watercraft Industry Association (PWIA) reports that the leading cause of watercraft accidents is user error. Inexperience and distraction are two of the most common reasons. In turn, most boating injuries resulting in death see the victim not wearing a life jacket.
Each state has it’s own boating rules and Minnesota is no exception. Here are some rules to live by:
- always wear a USCG approved life jacket
- operate watercraft from only 9:30 am to one hour before sun set
- take boating safety course if under 18 years of age (everyone should do this anyway)
- follow each lakes own boating rules
- keep watercraft safety inspections up-to-date
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has an excellent site that lists a boating guide and personal watercraft laws for the state.
- children under 13 cannot operate a boat, even if adult is present
- children 13 years of age must have a 21 year old adult present at all times
- children 14-17 must either have a boaters permit, or have a 21 year old on board
Of course much of it is common sense, but even the experienced can have accidents. Think before you drink and have a sober driver at the wheel, keep a first aid kit on board, and watch your gas level. Don’t forget that it is illegal in Minnesota to harass wildlife with a personal watercraft. Be mindful of you neighbors, too.
Even though there is alot to think about with boat safety, make sure you have fun too!