It seemed like every time I turned on the news this past summer, there was another story about a boating accident in Minnesota. It was an unusually dangerous year on Minnesota lakes, and that was recently confirmed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

According to WCCO, the Minnesota DNR said there have been 17 fatalities on the water, and 16 of the victims were not wearing life jackets. That total number is up two from 2020, and up seven from 2019. The last time numbers were this high was 2005 when there were 23 boating fatalities.

The pandemic has caused a spike in interest for the great outdoors. There are more first-time boaters than ever on the water, which leaves more room for accidents to happen if people aren't properly trained in boat safety procedures.

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About 30% of boating-related deaths happen during the cold water periods of spring and fall, so the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is strongly encouraging late-season boaters to use caution when hitting the water.

The MN DNR shared a list of helpful tips when hitting the open (cold) water this fall:

- Wear a life jacket. Foam life jackets are more effective than inflatable life jackets during the cold-water season.

- Distribute the weight in the boat evenly, and abide by the manufacturer’s weight limits to reduce the likelihood of falling overboard.

- Let other people know where you're going and when you plan to return.

- Watch the weather to avoid shifting winds or storms.

Have a safe end to the boating season!

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