More boaters means higher risk for accidents: How to stay safe on the water

Lakes country is gearing up for a barrage of boaters for the Fourth of July weekend.

Sam Goetzinger / WDAY News
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BECKER COUNTY, Minn. — With the fun on the water comes a warning from authorities. In the last five years, there have been more than 500 accidents on Minnesota waters with 70 being deadly.

To Becker County Sherriff Todd Glander, It's a scene all too familiar in Minnesota; law enforcement dealing with deadly situations that could have been prevented.

“Issues we have dealt with in the past have been alcohol related or inexperienced boaters,” Glander said.

When going out to the water this Fourth of July weekend, there are a few things to consider when going out on the lake. Make sure everybody has a life jacket. Those who are heading out to a body of water they have never been to before should get some information about potential hazards provided by local bait shops and local marinas. Most important is making sure anyone operating a boat or other watercraft hasn't been drinking.

“The driver has to stay sober. You can drink on a boat, but the driver has to remain sober. Jail time is possible. Fines, increases in insurance, those are all things that are possible” Glander said.


In the event of an accident happening, Glander says to take a second to access the situation and don't freak out.

“Try to keep everybody calm. If somebody needs a life jacket, you get that too them as soon as possible. But again, emotions get high, and we don't want people to hurt somebody by acting to quickly if they are inexperienced,” he said.

Sherriff Glander says life jackets are the most important tool to safety on the water, and that everyone must have one.

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Last month, the public safety department announced more state patrol troopers would patrol the Twin Cities following a chaotic Fourth of July weekend in Minneapolis that left several injured.

“Children nine and under, so under 10, have to have a life jacket on the entire time while the boat is under way," Glander said. "The adults have to have it readily accessible” he said.

The Fourth of July is meant for good times on the lake, but remember almost every boating accident could have been prevented.

“We want everyone to have fun, we'd rather talk to people who are having fun than talking to somebody whose life has changed because of an accident,” said Glander.

More law enforcement will be present while people are out on the waters in Minnesota over the weekend. North Dakota is launching Operation Dry Waters to prevent the number of boating accidents in the state.

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