MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Kim Elverum has been warning Minnesotans about water safety issues for more than four decades, and he’s retiring on Friday.

Elverum can probably recite the big 3 in his sleep: “Number 1, wear your life jacket. Number 2, remember that cold water can kill. And the third one is, of course, don’t drink and boat,” Elverum said.

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As water safety specialist for the DNR, Elverum has noted that most fatal accidents involve capsizing or falling overboard without a life jacket, sometimes in dangerously cold water and sometimes after drinking.

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Yet another one of Elverum’s often-repeated warnings reflects last week’s tragic death of a 2-year-old girl at a campground in Elk River.

“Anytime that your child is near the water you should be near your child,” he said.

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Under Elverum’s watch, boating fatalities have fallen from 56 in 1975 to 15 last year. The 65-year-old Elverum is the longest-serving state boating administrator in the nation.