By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is asking late-season boaters to take extra precautions after a particularly fatal year on the water.

Department officials say it was the deadliest boating season in 16 years, going back to 2005. Since Jan. 1, 17 people died this year in what they’re calling “boating-related drownings and crashes.”

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Out of those 17 people, 16 of them were reported as not wearing a life jacket at the time of the incident. Some of the deaths were unexpected falls while others experienced trouble making it back on the boat.

The Minnesota DNR says they always recommend wearing a life jacket while out on the water, but especially now as temperatures drop leaving some swimmers incapacitated.

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Experts say around 30% of boating-related deaths happen within the cold-water periods of spring and fall.

The DNR suggests the following safety precautions:

  • Wear a life jacket (foam life jackets are more effective than inflatable life jackets during the cold-water season).
  • Distribute the weight in the boat evenly and abide by the manufacturer’s weight limits to reduce the likelihood of falling overboard.
  • Have a means of communication. Boaters also should let other people know where they’re going and when they plan to return.
  • Watch the weather to avoid shifting winds or storms.
    Wear an engine cut-off device if the boat is equipped with one.

For more information on water safety click here.

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