LAKE MINNETONKA, Minn. - Bright sunshine and warm temperatures. Boaters live for days like this. While fun is top of mind, safety should be too.
Lake and pool water has taken more than two dozen victims this year. That's more drownings than any other year in the past decade and the summer is only half over.
Officials want people to remember the dangers of being out on the water.
DNR conservation officers Thor Nelson and Aaron Kahre see plenty of boaters not prepared.
Kahre said, "Make sure you have life jackets for everybody who is on board the boat. If you're going to swim around your boat make sure you have a throwable PFD that you can throw to somebody if they're struggling swimming beside your boat."
Throwables are required for boats 16 feet and longer. One boater on Lake Minnetonka got a warning on Saturday for not having one.
Also required by law is that kids nine and under must wear life jackets. But even good swimmers should consider doing the same.
Nelson said, "If you do hit your head on the side of the boat or anything else it's only going to help you if you're wearing it."
Kahre said you should always anchor your boat when you jump off to swim so it doesn't float away. He also said don't swim near thick weeds like milfoil. He said, "The more you thrash around and try to swim the more they wrap around your legs they wrap around each other they wrap around your arms and essentially just hold you there and don't allow you to swim back to the shore or the boat."
Kahre said by far, the biggest water safety threat in the summertime, especially on a lake as busy and as popular as Lake Minnetonka, is alcohol.
He said, "When you add alcohol to the mix it affects the way you can swim, the decisions you make, how fast you drive your boat."
Finally, when pulling someone on a tube or skier, he said stay far from other boats because the big waves they create can make it tough to see the person you're towing in the water when they fall.
He said, "If you don't respect the water for what it is and for what it can do to you you can make decisions that ultimately affect you in a bad way."
If you're weekend plans include spending time by a lake, river or pool, we ask you to consider becoming a Water Watch Dog.
It's all about keeping a close eye on your kids around the water.
The Water Watch Dog pledge says every time you take your kids to a pool or lake you will maintain constant visual contact with them, stay by them until another adult can relieve you, have a phone for emergencies and not drink alcohol, socialize, talk text or read.
Once you take this pledge you will receive a Water Watch Dog "dog tag" to wear as a visual reminder.
And we encourage you to encourage your friends to take the pledge as well by sharing the link on Facebook and Twitter.
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)