Rental Boat Safety is proud to have written this blog in partnership with Boating and Water Safety Outreach Coordinator of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Lisa Dugan.
Memorial Day weekend signals the start of the busy summer boating season, but boaters should keep in mind water temperatures remain very much spring-like. Boaters should wear life jackets no matter the water temperature or season, but it’s especially important this time of year, when wearing a life jacket is the one action that significantly increases the chances of surviving a fall into cold water.
Though temperatures continue to rise, water temperatures across the nation can be as low as the 50-degree mark, which is cold enough to cause a gasp reflex and incapacitate even the strongest swimmers in less than one minute.
“Cold water affects everyone the same – it reduces your swimming abilities,” said Lisa Dugan, boating safety representative with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Even the most experienced swimmers will have trouble within seconds of an unexpected fall into cold water. Wearing a life jacket gives you a fighting chance to get your head above water, stay calm instead of panicking, and call for help before hypothermia sets in.”
Across the nation, approximately one-third of boating fatalities occur on cold water, and United States Coast Guard statistics show the victims are disproportionately male. And during the past decade, there’s been a trend that men between the ages of 20 and 60 are the least likely to be wearing a life jacket and the most likely to drown while boating.
“It’s pretty clear that wearing a life jacket could easily prevent a significant percentage of boating deaths,” Dugan said.
Keep these safety tips in mind as you prepare to enjoy the Memorial holiday on the water:
- Leave the alcoholic beverages on the shore! Drunk boating is the same as drunk driving.
- Wear a life jacket. It’s the best way to stay safe on the water!
- Own your wake. Shared resources require shared responsibility. Be aware of the wake your boat creates and the impact it has on shoreline erosion as well as hazards created by large wakes to swimmers, paddlers, and others who are boating.
- Enjoy the view and put away the phone. Just as distracted driving is a concern on our roads, distracted boating can lead to accidents and fatalities on our waters.
- Be prepared! Whether you’re renting a Power Boat, Personal Watercraft, Canoe/Kayak or Stand-Up Paddleboard, we have training modules available to you for FREE at https://www.rentalboatsafety.com/learning
Thanks again to Boating and Water Safety Outreach Coordinator of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Lisa Dugan for her valuable insight! To learn more about her initiatives, you can visit mndnr.gov/boatingsafety Happy Boating!