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Water Safety Guidelines in Minnesota: What You Need to Know

 

Even with the days getting colder and shorter, there's still time to be out on the water in Minnesota. However, while the 2019 boating season did see a drop in fatalities from last year, non-fatal boating accidents were up. As the season comes to a close, it's important to remember to stay safe and know water safety rules to ensure the safety of those around you.

Following Sophia's Law

Remember that, as of May 1, 2018, Sophia's Law is in effect in the state. Meaning all recreational motorboats, including sailboats with motors, that have enclosed compartments must have functioning marine CO2 detection stickers. Watercraft that fit into this distinction should also display three CO2 poisoning warning stickers.

 

Life Jacket Requirements

Minnesota has specific life jacket requirements for those on any water vessel, including:

  • Children under 10 years of age required to wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets while a boat is underway (e.g., not securely fastened to a mooring or dock). There are a few exceptions to the law, including:
    • Children who are below the top deck or in an enclosed cabin
    • Children on passenger vessels operated by a licensed captain
    • Children on a boat anchored to allow for diving and swimming
    • Children who are under six months or 16lbs and are too small for a life jacket
  • A readily accessible and wearable life jacket is necessary for each person on board a boat (including canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, etc.)
  • A Type IV throwable is required on boats 16 feet or longer (except canoes or kayaks) and should be immediately available
  • Personal watercraft operators and passengers must each wear a life jacket
 

Dock Regulations

While docks and platforms allow for easier access to Minnesota's lakes and rivers, they do need to comply with state regulations. The current laws have been in effect for many years. However, many people may not be aware of their requirements. The requirements aim to balance reasonable access with habitat protection and general safety.

Docks may not be more than 8 feet wide and cannot be combined with other similar structures to create a wider platform. A single platform that is temporary can measure up to 120 square feet. They must not be a hazard to navigation, health, or safety, and must allow water to flow freely. A dock cannot close off part of a lake or river to other users. Docks also are required to comply with any local ordinances.

You can find more information about Minnesota state's dock requirements here.

Playing it Safe on the Water

While life jackets help keep everyone on a watercraft safe, other extra precautions can be taken around any body of water. The Red Cross recommends:

  • Ensure everyone in the family learns to swim well, including adults
  • Always swim with a buddy and only in designated swimming areas
  • Actively supervise children when they are in the water
  • Enroll in first aid and CPR/AED courses to be ready to respond to emergencies
  • Have appropriate equipment on hand, such as a throwing device, life jackets, a cell phone, and first aid kit
  • Before boating, swimming or heading to the beach, establish ground rules for safe conduct
  • Whether it's a boat or a swimming pool, make sure to have a life jacket close at hand
  • Avoid alcohol use when swimming and boating

If you're looking to learn the proper protocols and processes for boating safety, Minnesota state offers boat and water safety courses, both online and in class.

Practicing sound water safety protocol around waterways becomes even more critical when temperatures drop. As the weather begins to cool, ensure you're aware of cold water dangers. Over 30% of boating fatalities in the state do happen in cold water (with a victim not wearing a life jacket). Deaths can occur within 30 minutes of immersion in cold water, and drowning can occur within two to three minutes if you're not wearing a life jacket. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has an outline of how to stay safe in cold waters and what to do should your boat capsize.

While the season is almost over, knowing proper swimming and boating safety all year round will help keep you and your family safe out on the water.

If you, a family member, or anyone close to you have been involved in an accident resulting in personal injury in Minnesota, we can help. From boating mishaps to drunk driving accidents, the lawyers of SiebenCarey have represented thousands of families for over 60 years. We're Minnesota's original "Know Your Rights" attorneys that handle personal injury in Minnesota and throughout the state. Click here for more information.

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Deb Colombe

I was involved in a car accident that was complicated at best. God blessed with me Eric Beyer as my attorney. Although it was a long drawn out process between the two insurance companies, Eric was not only my attorney, he was my rock.

Eric is one of the most ethical people I have ever met in my lifetime. He was a constant source of not only information, but of comfort throughout the whole process. I never doubted for one moment that Eric did not have my best interest at heart. He took every word I said seriously and did what he had to do. If I ever have the misfortune of another injury like this, I would go to no one other than Eric Beyer. I will never in my lifetime be able to thank Eric enough or let him know how much I respect him and what a comfort he was and has continued to be for me. God Bless you Eric Beyer.

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I was seriously injured in a car accident on my wedding night and went to SiebenCarey. Being involved in an accident is never fun. The folks at SiebenCarey got us thru the event helping us get on with our lives. They were up front and honest. We knew we could trust them. It’s clear to me why Art has been recognized as a Best Lawyer in America and Super Lawyer for 12 years running. Now anytime I know someone who was involved in an accident I refer them to SiebenCarey.

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Eric W. Beyer helped me through a very difficult time and his professionalism, advice and results from an injury were highly respected. Amidst the personal part of getting myself back to health, his guidance when life was blurry was so appreciated. He listened and then put forth my options honestly and directly which I totally appreciated!

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Jesse Bukal

In need of a personal injury attorney? Well you're if you're reading this you're in the right place. You'd be hard pressed to find more competent attorneys than the ones here at SiebenCarey.

They took my case to trial and an amazing job presenting the facts and fighting for my best interests! Three years ago I was unsure of what my future would bring; now that it's over I can rest a bit easier. With SiebenCarey as my counsel, I believe I had the absolute BEST representation a person could've asked for. I knew that I wanted the absolute best representation when searching for an attorney to handle my case and I most definitely received it.

If you need a personal injury attorney, look no further. Can't recommend highly enough.

Chris and Amy Boys

We worked with Art and his team on a personal injury case. We could not have been more pleased with the result. Art and his team were both professional and personable, and were a pleasure to work with. I would highly recommend Art and his team if you find yourself in this type of situation.

Laurian Reiners

Mark Olive did an absolutely fantastic job helping Jim during his ordeal with the company he worked for.  The outcome made it so that Jim could retire after the settlement.  We could not asked for a better representative for him.

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I have been working with Jeff Sieben since the year 2003 and I find he does excellent work.

Vicki Burkhardt

Art and his staff were fantastic. After being involved in a car accident they made the process so easy and effortless. The end result exceeded anything I ever expected. The right lawyer really makes a difference and Art and his staff were definitely the right choice. I would highly recommend giving them a call if you are unfortunate to get in an accident.

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We were VERY pleased with Jeff's attention to us and our case.  Jeff, and all of the team there, did an outstanding job of making that process as stress-free as possible for us.  The communications were never delayed; response time (no matter how often we had questions) was beyond expectations. We truly liked Jeff's up-front and true-life demeanor, nothing was sugar-coated nor was anything spoken or written in terms we didn't understand which meant we were all talking on the same levels and never felt uneducated in the attorney world we were dealing with. I would certainly refer anyone I know to you all!

Teresa Theobald

I cannot express how happy my family is with Mr. Beyer!  He has impressed us in too many ways to count!  As educated people, we attempted to accomplish litigation on our own...BIG mistake!  Mr. Beyer and his staff are amazing!  Litigation is their wheelhouse.  If you are wondering if you should hire them; the answer is yes.

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