Ahead of holiday weekend, Wisconsin DNR encourages paddlers, boaters to wear PFDs

Kayakers approaching Sand Island

Wearing a personal flotation device when you’re boating can literally be a life saver. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources made that point today, in releasing a report on boating fatalities so far during 2021. All six people had one thing in common: none wore PFDs.

Of the six, two were kayakers, two were canoeists and two were in motorboats.

In a news release, DNR Boating Law Administrator Darren Kuhn said, “Safety is an important part of water fun. Most drowning victims on Wisconsin waterbodies were not wearing life jackets.”

The DNR says operator inexperience, inattention, recklessness and speeding are the four leading causes of tragic watercraft crashes, and the leading cause of death is drowning.

Boating incident reports to date for 2021 and previous years are available online here.

“Wisconsin rivers and lakes can be relaxing and family-friendly places to spend a summer day when you put safety first and respect for the water.”

Lt. Darren Kuhn, DNR Boating Law Administrator

This week before the Memorial Day weekend is National Safe Boating Week. It’s a good time to check your gear and safety procedures before you hit the water this weekend, whether it’s Lake Superior or an inland lake or river.

The DNR also recommends keeping a close eye on the weather, which can dramatically affect water conditions. New this year in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, is a National Weather Service zone forecast specifically for the islands 5 or more miles from shore. Read the details here.

The National Park Service also offers this boater safety information specifically for the Apostle Islands. Stay safe out there.