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Safety tips to follow while out on the water in Minnesota this spring

DNR offers safety reminders as spring brings people back on the water
DNR offers safety reminders as spring brings people back on the water 01:44

SPRING PARK, Minn. — Ice-out came earlier than normal this spring. Whether you're fishing, paddling or boating, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wants you to keep safety top of mind.

"Cold water presents a different danger for boaters," Minnesota DNR Recreation Safety Outreach Coordinator Lisa Dugan said.

Dugan says water safety is important year-round, but especially during the cold-water season. Nearly one-third of fatal boating accidents happen during that time. According to the DNR, cold water can quickly incapacitate.

"The life jacket is really the one piece of equipment that can really save your life," she said.

It's Dugan's number one tip. While inflatable life jackets are gaining popularity, foam jackets are best. Inflatable jackets may not fully inflate when the water is cold.

Check your watercraft for proper registration and safety equipment, and make sure it all functions properly. Always use an engine cut-off device if the watercraft is equipped with one.

"If you do fall into the water, there's a cold gasp reflex and really having that life jacket on and wearing it not just bringing it with you but wearing it in the boat, can really save your life if you fall in unexpectedly," Dugan said.   

Communication is key — if you plan on spending time on the lake or river alone, Dugan suggests using a buddy system. Let someone know where you are and when you plan to return.

"Oftentimes in the early season, there's less people on the way. Help may be further away," she said. "It's always best to go with a buddy. If there's an unexpected fall into the water, somebody's there to help you."

Be sure to check the weather too.

For more safety tips, click here.

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