FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) -Minnesota DNR says it’s seen the highest number of people losing their lives in boating-related crashes and drowning since 2005.
There’s a few more weeks of open water left, and that leaves a chance for the number of deaths to grow.
This year, Minnesota has seen 17 people lose their lives in boating-related accidents.
For comparison, in 2019 that number was 10.
Minnesota DNR’s Joe Albert says there’s a reason for the high number.
“There’s more people on the lakes. There has been and it started in 2020 with the pandemic. The lakes have been really busy,” said Albert.
16 of the 17 who died were not wearing life jackets when they went into the water.
“The law requires them on kids under 10. Everyone who is out on the water should be wearing one,” said Albert.
The temperatures have been above normal this fall, but the water temperature is below 70 degrees.
This is the threshold for water to get even more dangerous.
“Our nights are getting cold, the days are getting colder and obviously that water’s getting colder. If you fall at this time of year, when you’re not expecting it, it makes it really difficult to swim, keep your composure. So a life jacket gives you time to kind of evaluate the situation and hopefully get out of that situation alive,” said Albert.
DNR says 30% of boat-related fatalities happen during the cold-water periods.
“This time of year especially. There’s less people on the water. There’s less chance if you’re in a bad situation that someone is just gonna happen by. Again, we say it all the time and sound like a broken record but it’s wearing that life jacket and not just having it along,” said Albert.
Some other safety reminders from DNR are spreading out people on the boat to lessen the chances of someone falling off, let people know when you are going on the water and when you’re going to return, and wear an engine cut-off device if the boat has one.
For more information on how to stay safe around the lakes this season, click here.
Copyright 2021 KVLY. All rights reserved.
Read More:MN DNR Reports 17 boat-related deaths this year