BRANT LAKE, S.D. (KELO) — With the nice weather, many people are out on the lakes boating. To ensure boaters are safe, the Game, Fish, and Parks Department is conducting boat safety checks at lakes and rivers across South Dakota.
“Today we were out on Brant Lake. We were going around checking boats, making sure that they got their safety equipment. That they’re operating their boat safely,” GF&P conservation officer Trevor Johnson said.
They conduct boat safety checks all season long, and they make sure everybody has the required safety equipment while out on the water.
“If they don’t have required equipment, we make it a point to make it an educational opportunity,” Johnson said. “Make sure they understand why they need their life jackets. If they are required, to have a throwable device with them and a fire extinguisher are the three things we typically look for in a boat safety inspection.”
Nationwide, 79-percent of fatal boating accidents involved people drowning. Of those victims, 86-percent were not wearing a life jacket.
“Everybody that is on a vessel needs to have a life jacket per person,” Johnson said. “They do not need to be wearing the life jacket, it just needs to be on the boat. If they are on a jet ski or personal watercraft, they are required to be wearing a life jacket.”
Life jackets should always be easily accessible so it’s there when you need it. And if you’re fishing, you also need your fishing license.
GF&P also looks for impaired boaters.
“Alcohol is a big one, that is one of the things that we’re looking out for a lot,” Johnson said. “That will impair your driving, your reaction time, and on a hot summer day, that impairment that alcohol causes can be exaggerated a little bit.”
So just like on the road, always have a sober driver. And be on the lookout for other boaters and people swimming.
“We’ve had a big influx of boaters on the water, people using our beaches, so there’s swimmers out there along with the boats going by the swimming beach areas. We just want to make sure everybody is safe and they’re aware of their surroundings,” Johnson said.