The single most important reminder the North Dakota Game and Fish Department will issue to recreationists this summer is to be alert and safe near water.
Boat and water safety coordinator Nancy Boldt said safety on the water begins with wearing a personal flotation device.
“Failure to wear a personal floatation device is the main reason people lose their lives in water recreation accidents,” Boldt said.
North Dakota law requires all children ages 10 and younger to wear a personal flotation device while in boats of less than 27 feet in length. The law also requires all personal watercraft users to wear a life jacket, as well as anyone towed on skis, tubes, boards or other similar devices.
Water users should make sure to wear life jackets that are the appropriate size, and in good condition. It is also important that children wear a PFD while swimming.
Water skiers and tubers should wear a life jacket with four nylon straps rather than one with a zipper, because straps are stronger than zippers upon impact with water. Anglers or persons paddling a canoe should opt for a PFD that is comfortable enough to wear for an entire outing.
Water skiers and tubers are reminded it takes three to ski and tube. When a person is towed on water skis or a similar device, an observer other than the operator is required on the vessel.
“In addition, it is important for swimmers to know water depth, as serious injuries can occur from diving into water,” Boldt said. “Large objects hidden below the water’s surface can lead to significant injury.”
North Dakota boaters also are reminded that marine VHF radios are an important part of boat safety that should not be improperly used by operators. These radios are intended for boat operators who are in distress and facing an emergency situation.
Regulations to help ensure safe boating this summer are found in the 2014-16 North Dakota Fishing Guide. A more comprehensive listing is available in the North Dakota Boat and Water Safety Guide or the Boat North Dakota education book. These guides are available online at the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at a local Game and Fish Department office.