Tricounty News

Cold water is a danger to late-season boaters

As Minnesotans enjoy their last bit of time on water before the ice, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is warning boaters, paddlers and waterfowl hunters not to let their guard down.

Right now, water temperatures on Lake Minnetonka and the 
St. Croix River are hovering around 40 degrees.

“Forty degrees is cold,” said Kara Owens, DNR boat and water safety specialist. “Cold water can prove dangerous, or even deadly, especially if people don’t consider the consequences of falling into frigid water this time of year.”

So far this year, 12 people have died in boating accidents in Minnesota, compared to 14 deaths this time last year. One person has died during the late boating season (October to November), compared to four deaths this time last year.

“It’s more important than ever that every boater wears a life jacket every time they step on a boat,” said Owens.

She added, a life jacket will not only keep you afloat, but always keep you warm if you fall into cold water.

The DNR recommends these safety tips for late-season boaters:

• Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket; even good swimmers need to wear one.

• Don’t go boating alone; boating safety increases with numbers.

• Keep an eye on the weather and go to shore if the wind picks up.

• If boat becomes swamped or capsizes, try to re-board and stay with the craft if possible and await rescue.