A family riding a canoe

In 2020, The United States Coast Guard reported that boating deaths surged nearly 25 percent nationwide compared to 2019.

The percentage of new boats sold to first-time buyers surged to 34 percent in 2020 due to the pandemic, while boating education plummeted. With the influx of new boaters enjoying the water again this summer, it’s safe to say 2021 will be just as busy.


Before hitting Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes this summer, here are some important reminders:

• Always wear a life jacket. For children who are weak swimmers, it is vital they remain in a life jacket at all times. The US Coast Guard reported that 79 percent of deaths from boating were from drowning and of those deaths, 86 percent were not wearing a life jacket.

• Be aware of other water crafts near you, including jet skis and smaller canoes or kayaks. The US Coast Guard reported that many accidents occur due to boaters being distracted.

• Boat operators are allowed to drink alcoholic beverages while operating a boat, but if they drive recklessly and have a blood alcohol level greater than .08, they can still be arrested for driving drunk. A BWI (Boating While Intoxicated charge) carries similar penalties and fines as a DWI, and can affect your insurance similarly. It is recommended that you always plan to have a sober driver on the water just as you would on land.

• Before taking your watercraft out, share your plans with others. Make sure you tell someone where you are going and who you are with. If you face an emergency situation, it will ensure crews can narrow their search quickly.

• Monitor weather conditions. It is important to watch the weather before departing on a boating adventure and to take any warnings seriously. Never embark on an excursion in inclement weather.

• Take a course on boating either in-person or virtually. The US Coast Guard offers safety education classes that will help ensure you and your family are up-to-speed on all current rules of the water.