Increase in water-related fatalities so far this year in Minnesota attributed to warm weather earlier
WILLMAR -- More than two dozen people have died in water-related accidents this year in Minnesota, which is up from 14 at this time last year.
Kim Elverum, coordinator of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Boat and Water Safety, said the increase is directly related to the weather.
"We first had a very warm spring, so we had a lot of people get out on the water at that time. And then, we had some warmer weather in the last week or two," Elverum said.
Deaths have occurred all over the state in lakes, swimming pools and ponds. Deaths have ranged in age from a 14-month-old baby to a 67-year-old angler.
"Kids have a tendency to walk away and are fascinated by water, so if your child is at the water you should be near your child," Elverum said.
Especially on hot days, lifeguards are unable to keep track of every child. Parents and guardians need to keep an eye on them as well.
Adults can also put themselves in danger by not taking safety precautions.
Elverum advises everyone to wear a life jacket while boating and fishing as passengers can easily fall overboard and drown.
Eight-seven percent of the boating fatalities in the country could be prevented if the people wore life jackets, he said.
It's also important to avoid alcohol while near water and be aware of your own limitations.
Many adult accidents occur because swimmers overestimate their ability, he said. They try to swim across the lake, and they don't make it.
Swimming and boating with a buddy can also help prevent accidents.
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