MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As we head into the Memorial Day weekend, enforcement officers with the Minnesota Department of Natural resources are stressing the importance of life jackets for adults and kids.
In Minnesota, children under the age of 10 are required by law to wear life jackets while on boats. We spent some time on Lake Minnetonka, where officers shared some safety reminders and a warning.
“Lakes across Minnesota will see plenty of action this weekend. The weather will be warm, some might even consider it hot. But keep in mind, the water temperature is not,” said Leah Weyandt, a DNR conservation officer who patrols Lake Minnetonka. “Even though it looks like we are going to have 80-degree weather this weekend, it’s gonna be nice and warm and people are going to be hot, the water temperature is in the 60s which can shock the body if you fall into the water,” she said.
That’s why Officer Weyandt says it just makes sense to wear a life jacket while boating.
“If you are trying to swim back to shore you can have muscle cramps, you can get really tight and not able to move at all,” she said.
She says there’s always a chance you could end up in the water unintentionally, or need to help someone else.
“Think of it as a situation where the child is too young to swim or doesn’t know what to do, or if you hit your head, you are not able to save or help anybody. But if you have a life jacket on you are up, you’re ready,” she said.
It’s not just motorized boats officers keep an eye on, it’s canoes and kayaks too.
“We actually had 12 boating fatalities last year, and a good chunk of them were from non-motorized boats. Kayaks, canoes… they are very, very tippy. People want to get out there right away when this water is cold. We recommend they wear the life jacket,” Officer Weyandt said.
And use caution if you are planning to swim.
“The deeper you go, it’s colder further down. The surface temperature is a lot different than if you go 10 feet down,” she said.
Enforcement officers from the DNR will be out keeping an eye on boaters and swimmers, but they say we have an obligation to look out for one another and make good decisions.