SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Over the past few days, two people have died in suspected drownings in the state. Last Friday morning, 10-year-old Molu Zarpeleh’s body was found at the bottom of a retention pond in Brookings. Later that day, Hughes County Chief Deputy Lee Weber lost his life while saving his son who had fallen in the Missouri River.
With water traffic expected to remain busy this summer, water safety is more important than ever whether in the boat or at the beach. The South Dakota Game Fish & Parks Department spoke about what precautions people can take to ensure their safety.
If you see someone drowning, the Game Fish & Parks Department says to call 911 immediately.
“Don’t wait, definitely give us a call, or give the Sheriff’s office a call as soon as possible so we can get services out to them right away,” Regional Conservation Officer Supervisor Jeremy Roe said.
To help prevent drownings, the GF&P requires life jackets and other flotation devices on every boat.
Not everyone is required to wear a life vest.
“It’s not a law that says you have to have them on, but we definitely highly encourage it, and then any kid under the age of seven and under has to be wearing a life jacket when your boat is above wake speed,” Roe said
Whether you are on a boat or at the beach, GF&P officer Jeremy Roe says you should consider wearing a life jacket, even if you’re a strong swimmer.
“There’s so many factors out there that we can’t control when you’re on your water. Whether you hit your head or current always can play a little bit of a factor, when you get pulled away from a boat,” Roe said.
He also recommends going in groups.
“If you can have a swimming buddy or whatnot that’s always with you, or just another set of eyes to watch your kids or whatnot when you’re on the beach, is very, very helpful,” Roe said.
The GF&P also suggests limiting alcohol consumption while in a boat. This past weekend the GF&P increased its patrols on the water as part of the national Operation Dry Water program, which is a year long effort to stop people from boating under the influence.