The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wants to remind the public to wear life jackets as they get out and enjoy Wisconsin’s waterways over the Labor Day holiday.

As summer draws to a close, 19 people have died in boating accidents in Wisconsin in 2020, according to the DNR. Sixteen of those were drownings. Fourteen of the those people were not wearing life jackets, and one person’s life jacket was incorrectly secured.

“Our hearts break for the families and friends of those who don’t make it home,” said DNR Chief Conservation Warden Casey Krueger in a news release. “These are painful reminders to remember your safety when you plan an outing that involves any Wisconsin waterbody.”

The DNR does not track all drownings – only those fatalities linked to the use of a recreational activity item, such as a boat, kayak or canoe. Boating incident reports to date for 2020 and previous years, as well as the annual overall recreational incidents, can be found here.

Water safety tips

  • Always wear a life jacket when you’re on or near the water. Life jackets will keep you on top of the water if you walk off an unexpected drop-off, or a wave or current overpowers you or you fall out of a boat.
  • Enjoy the waters sober and know your limits. Alcohol blurs a person’s judgment, reaction time and abilities.
  • River shorelines and sandbars pose unseen dangers. Higher, fast-moving water can tax an individual’s boating, paddling and swimming skills.
  • Keep an eye on the weather and let someone know where you are going.

Click here for more boating safety tips.