LAKE CITY, Minn. (KTTC) -- There have been nine boat-related deaths this year in Minnesota, and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is stressing the importance of boat and water safety.
Through July 6, 2021 has seen more boating fatalities than at the same point in each previous year going back to 2012.
One factor could be an increase in the number of new boaters out on the water.
"At the end of last season there was an increase in registered boats, there was an increase in new boat owners," stated DNR Recreation Safety Outreach Coordinator Lisa Dugan.
While the number one contributing factor to fatalities on the water is people not wearing life jackets, 40 percent of boating deaths occur because of alcohol. The DNR says drinking while boating is becoming a problem.
"One beer on the boat might affect you different than it does you know if you're sitting around with your buddies," said Dugan.
In addition to following the rules and regulations, experienced boaters we heard from had some additional advice for people new to the activity.
"There's always one person in charge. And you know you listen to the boat captain and be careful because if you're under and you take one gulp, you know, that could be it," said longtime boat owner John Nathe.
"With this current you know you have to take extra caution because this is where Lake Pepin turns back into the Mississippi," stated another boat owner, Cindy Christensen talking about a danger to avoid while on the river.
For more information on Minnesota boat safety, there is a free guide available online from the DNR. They recommend boat owners print the guide and keep it with them in their boat while on the water.