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Boating season is here in Wisconsin and for boaters, it's time to get your vessel out of storage and start performing the necessary inspections and maintenance to ensure that you're ready to hit the water as soon as the weather allows. Follow these tips to get your boat water-ready for summer: 

  • Perform a thorough inspection on all systems and equipment:

  • Fuel System: Check fuel lines, filters, clamps and, of course, the fuel tank for damage or wear and tear. Look for leaks, cracks and secure fittings between elements. If anything seems off, don't take the risk: just replace it.

  • Belts, Cables and Hoses: Winter weather can cause these items to crack or become brittle. See that all belts fit snugly and that cables don't show any cracks or swelling. 

  • Propellers and hulls: Inspect propellers for cracks or dings and other damage; be sure it is securely in place and replace bearings if necessary. Thoroughly clean the hull and decks and make sure the drain plug is secure. 

  • Battery and electrical system: Be sure your battery is charged and check all electrical connections for corrosion before getting out on the water. Because a boat's electrical system is inherently different and presents unique risks, always use an experienced marine electrician and be sure to have your wiring inspected by a professional on a regular basis. 

  • Fluids: Check fluid levels, power steering fluid, oil and coolant. 

  • Safety gear and equipment: Check lights, fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide detector and other safety equipment to be sure it's in good working order. Make sure you have an adequate number of life jackets in proper sizes, as well as flotation devices for emergency. 

Review boating rules and regulations:

  • Check that your registration is current and meets the requirements..

  • Make sure you have a valid drivers license before getting on the water or allowing someone else to drive your boat. 

Safety On The Water
Operator inexperience, inattention, recklessness, and speeding are the four leading causes of tragic watercraft crashes and the leading cause of death is drowning.   When it comes to crash statistics, boaters who wear life jackets and take boater safety courses are most likely to stay safe on Wisconsin waters.

  • Follow these basic safety tips and enjoy Wisconsin's great lakes and rivers with family and friends.

  • Leave alcohol onshore - Never use drugs or alcohol before or during boat operation. Alcohol's effects are greatly exaggerated by exposure to sun, glare, wind, noise, and vibration.

  • Use and maintain the right safety equipment.

  • Have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person onboard and one approved throwable device for any boat 16 feet and longer. The DNR recommends that everyone wear their lifejackets while on the water.

  • Have a fire extinguisher.

  • Have operable boat lights - Always test boat lights before the boat leaves the dock and carry extra batteries. 

  • Emergency supplies - Keep on board in a floating pouch: cell phone, maps, flares, and 1st aid kit.

  • Wear a lifejacket! - More than 90% of boat fatalities related to drowning involve victims not wearing life jackets, you need one for your safety. You also need one because Wisconsin law, as well as U.S. Coast Guard law, 

  • Know the local regulations and navigation rules

  • Regardless of the season, keep a close eye on the weather and bring a radio. Sudden wind shifts, lightning flashes and choppy water all can mean a storm is brewing. If bad weather is approaching, get off the water early to avoid a long waiting line in inclement weather

  • Tell someone where you are going and when you will return.

  • Open all hatches and run the blower after you refuel and before getting underway. Sniff for fumes before starting the engine and if you smell fumes, do not start the engine.

  • Check the boat landing for any local regulations that apply. If boating on the Great Lakes or Mississippi River, review the federal regulations for additional requirements.

  • Overloading a boat with gear or passengers will make the boat unstable and increase the risk of capsizing or swamping. Abide by the boats capacity plate which located near the boat operators position.

  • Never allow passengers to ride on gunwales or seatbacks or outside of protective railings, including the front of a pontoon boat. A sudden turn, stop or start could cause a fall overboard.

  • After leaving the boat launch, maintain slow-no-wake speed for a safe and legal distance from the launch.