With almost ideal weather predicted for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department urges boaters to keep safety in mind when enjoying time on the water.
At the top of the safety checklist is to make sure a boat has enough life jackets on board for all passengers. Inadequate number of life jackets was the most prevalent boating-related citation issued by North Dakota game wardens last year.
In addition, failure to wear a personal flotation device is the main reason people lose their lives in water recreation accidents.
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.
However, state law allows an individual who is at least 16 years of age to windsurf or boardsail without wearing a PFD.
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.
Swimmers should know the water’s depth as serious injuries can occur from diving into water. 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 2018-20 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.