PIERRE, S.D. - Water temperatures are warming in South
Dakota, and boaters typically begin to take to the water in
greater numbers as the July Fourth holiday approaches.
In an effort to help keep those boaters safe on South
Dakota's public waters, the Department of Game, Fish and
Parks (GFP) will step up its efforts over the next few
weekends to conduct boating safety checks across the
"While GFP conservation officers routinely conduct boating
safety checks during much of the year, these stepped up
efforts are being made as part of a nationwide boating
safety campaign in conjunction with the National
Association of Boating Law Adminstrators (NASBLA), said
Brandon Gust, GFP boating safety coordinator.
Before heading onto the water this summer, Gust encourages
boaters to take a close look at their fire extinguishers,
life jackets, throwable seat cushions and other equipment
to be sure they're in good working condition. "The best way
to prevent an unwanted tragedy on the water is to be
If boaters are uncertain what safety equipment they are
required to have onboard, Gust suggests that they pick up a
copy of the South Dakota Boating Handbook at the nearest
GFP Office, state park, GFP-license outlet or by going
The following list of required safety equipment serves as a
quick reference, but Gust suggests that boaters take a few
minutes to review other safety regulations in the South
Dakota Boating Handbook. The majority of boats in South
Dakota are required to carry:
One U.S. Coast Guard-approved wearable, properly sized
personable flotation device for each person aboard
One U.S. Coast Guard-approved throwable type flotation
device (seat cushion or ring buoy) for vessels 16 feet
One U.S. Coast Guard-approved fire extinguisher of B-1
type or larger for vessels with enclosed gas
While state regulations require that children under the age
of seven must wear their life jackets anytime a boat is
moving on the water at 'greater than no-wake speed,' Gust
encourages parents to have all children wear life jackets.
Gust also emphasizes that parents should check to be sure
each child has a properly sized lifejacket to ensure it
doesn't come off when they jump into the water.
"Of course, it goes without saying that life jackets will
not keep anyone afloat, young or old, if they're not
wearing them, said Gust.
Boating accidents present a special safety concern, and
Gust asks that boaters be especially mindful when other
boats are present.
"Many times we see boat accidents that involve
inexperienced operators, but careless or reckless operators
present a problem for everyone, he said.
Finally, Gust asks that boat operators do their part to
make for a safe outing and limit alcohol consumption.
"The safety of everyone aboard a boat depends on having a
sober and competent boat operator, he said. "While open
containers of alcohol are allowed in boats, we want to
ensure that each boat has a designated sober operator at