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State officials say there have been at least nine boating-related deaths in Minnesota this year which makes it the deadliest year on Minnesota waterways in more than a decade.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources also noted there have been a higher than average number of drownings at beaches and swimming pools throughout the state and officials are reminding everyone to make safety their first priority.

“There are too many families who won’t be seeing their loved ones again,” said Lt. Adam Block, boating law administrator for the DNR Enforcement Division. “It’s up to everyone who heads for the water to double-down on safety and prevent what should be a fun experience from turning tragic.”

A news release issued by the DNR offered the following tips for staying safe around the water.

  • Wear a life jacket. All children and adults should wear a life jacket anytime they’re around the water. Each year even adults who are good swimmers go under the water and never resurface.
  • Avoid alcohol. Its effects are magnified on the water and the consequences can be deadly. About 40 percent of boating fatalities include alcohol.
  • Designate a “water watcher.” This person puts down their cell phone or other distractions and focuses only on watching the water to ensure everyone is safe.
  • Wade feet-first into the water to avoid jumping into an area where the current, depth and other conditions are unknown.
  • Constantly supervise children while they’re in or near the water. Looking away even for a moment is enough time for tragedy to strike. Drowning often doesn’t involve yelling, screaming and waving of the arms. Rather, it often occurs silently.
  • Swim only in designated swimming areas.

More information on water safety can be found on the Department of Natural Resources Boat and Water Safety Pages.

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