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DNR: Think Water Safety This 4th of July - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

DNR: Think Water Safety This 4th of July

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As boaters get ready for the three-day holiday weekend, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is reminding everyone to keep boating and water safety top of mind.

"Safety never takes a vacation," said Kara Owens, DNR boat and water safety specialist. "Boaters should wear a life jacket every time they step on a boat and stay away from alcohol; booze and boating don't mix."

In Minnesota so far this year, four people have died in boating accidents compared to nine fatalities for the same time period last year.

Falls overboard, capsizing and failure to use life jackets are the most common factors in fatal boating accidents around the state.

"We want people to get out and enjoy our weather, but don't put yourself or someone else in danger by making dangerous decisions on the water," Owens said.

Drowning is often silent and occurs within minutes when help is nearby, Owens said.

Parents need to avoid becoming distracted with a book or cell phone and watch children the entire time they are at the beach, pool or near water.

Water levels remain high around many parts of the metro. "High water levels mean a fast and strong moving current, which many boat operators and swimmers are not used to," Owens said.

No-wake zones are in effect on many lakes and rivers around the area, including: the St. Croix River from Taylors Falls to Prescott, Wisconsin, Lake Minnetonka and Prior Lake.

 The DNR recommends these safety tips for boaters and swimmers:

· Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket; even good swimmers need to wear one.
· Avoid alcohol. Booze and boating do not mix.
· Don't go boating or swimming alone; water safety increases with numbers.
· Watch children around water.

For more information on boating safety go to www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/boatwater/index.html 

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