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Keep Safe On The Water This Summer

Matthew E. Steinbrink - SiebenCarey "Know Your Rights" AttorneyJuly 03, 2015

With summer in full swing and July upon us, many folks will be using one of our 10,000 lakes to go swimming and boating.  Having seen a number of injury and fatality claims it’s important to implement safe practices on the water.  

Every year a number of Minnesotans are injured or killed while out on and in the water.   Fortunately there has been a decline in water related injuries and deaths over the past decade.  For instance, in 2005 there were 23 boating fatalities, 93 non-fatal boating accidents, and 45 non-boating drownings.   Numbers from 2014 reflect 14 boating fatalities, 36 non-fatal boating accidents, and 29 non-boating drownings.  

The top 3 causes of non-fatal boating accidents from 2014 were capsizing, injury from water sports, and collision with another watercraft.  

 With that in mind it is important to consider water safety before and during all water activities.  A few tips that will help you and your family have a safe summer season on the water include: 

Stay sober. Do not drink alcohol and operate a watercraft; alcohol is the #1 factor in boating fatalities.  As with driving a motor vehicle, you can be charged with operating a watercraft while intoxicated.  The legal limit for boating is the same as with motor vehicles; .08 g/dl.  

Wear a life jacket.  A readily accessible and wearable life jacket must be on board the watercraft for every person.  State law requires that children under 10 be wearing a life jacket when aboard any watercraft that is underway.  Operators of personal watercraft and their passengers must wear a life jacket. 

Know the weather.  Prepare for your day by knowing what the weather is supposed to be like and know when it is supposed to get dark.  Don’t let a sudden storm or other in climate weather scenario sneak up on you.  Don’t get caught out past dark on the water without knowing the body of water you are on, and make sure your watercraft has the appropriate light requirements.   

Personal watercraft.  More commonly known as jet skis, wave runners, or sea doos, all have additional rules that apply to their operation.  They can only be used from 9:30 a.m. until 1 hour before sunset.  They must observe a no wake speed (5mph or less) within 150 feet on non motorized boats, docks, swim rafts, etc.  

In the unfortunate event that you or a loved one are involved in an accident, make sure it is reported to law enforcement.   Typically, the county sheriff will take reports of accidents and injuries on the water.  

If you or loved one are involved in a boating accident, it is also important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to protect your rights after the accident.

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