Making safe choices for Fourth of July weekend

Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 8:53 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Fourth of July weekend is almost upon us and it’s one of the busiest times of the year on Wisconsin’s waterways, which means it’s important to remember to stay safe while having fun.

Alcohol is one of the biggest factors involved in boating deaths.

The DNR and the Marathon County Sheriff’s Office will have extra patrols on the water this weekend for “Operation Dry Water,” ensuring boaters aren’t putting others at risk with alcohol.

“Definitely play it safe, keep in mind the life jackets, watch the drinking,” Deputy Michael Van Offeren said.

Van Offeren said having one drink on the water is the same as having three drinks on land. This is because of the motion of the water and long exposure to the sun’s heat.

“When you’re drinking two drinks on land, you’re actually drinking a six pack if you’re out on the water,” Van Offeren said.

According to the DNR, nearly 80% of fatal boat accidents involve drowning.

“Watch the slow no wake laws, don’t be too close to shore or other boats especially if you’re on a jet ski. Try and keep space from both shore and other boats,” he said.

While life jackets are not required to be worn at all times, Van Offeren said it’s the law for every passenger in the boat to have a life jacket on board.

He recommends sitting down so you don’t accidentally go overboard.

“Make sure all your passengers are seated in a proper seat, don’t have anyone riding on the edges or the gunwales of the boat,” Van Offeren said.

So far in 2021, the DNR said 13 people have died from boating related incidents.

The best way to combat these problems is to wear a life jacket and stay sober.

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