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St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News)-The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will be patrolling lakes and rivers across the state this weekend looking for impaired boaters.

The agency’s “Operation Dry Water” started Saturday and runs through Monday. Officers anticipate the state’s waterways will be busier than usual for the Independence Day weekend and are reminding the public that boating while intoxicated is one of the leading causes of boating accidents and fatalities.

The DNR says Minnesota has some of the toughest penalties for BWI. The DNR also offered offered other water safety tips ahead of the holiday weekend: 

  • Everyone on the boat should wear their life jacket. Wearing a life jacket is the best way to ensure an unexpected fall into the water doesn’t turn tragic. Boaters should make use of evolving safety equipment:
    • Engine cut-off devices
    • Inflatable life jackets
    • Personal locator beacons
  • Own Your Wake. Shared resources require shared responsibility. Be aware of the wake your boat creates and the impact it has on shoreline erosion as well as the hazards large wakes create for swimmers, paddlers, and others who are boating.
  • Remember to have the boat’s exhaust system inspected for damage or loose lines. Know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning:
    • Dull headache
    • Weakness
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Shortness of breath
    • Confusion
    • Blurred vision
    • Loss of consciousness
  • Distracted boating is a rising safety issue. Just as distracted driving is a concern on our roads, distracted boating can lead to accidents and fatalities on our waters.
  • All watercraft must have a valid boat registration, except for non-motorized watercraft 10 feet or less.
  • Youth operators 12-17 are required to have a watercraft operator’s permit to operate motorboats over 25 hp (age 13 minimum for personal watercraft under the visual supervision of someone age 21 or older).
  • Take a boating safety course. The vast majority of boating accidents occur on boats where the operator has not taken a boating safety class.
  • Boating under the influence applies to drugs, as well as alcohol. Alcohol can impair a boater's judgment, balance, vision and reaction time. Common boating stressors – sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion – intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs and some medications.

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