Boat Responsibly; Life Jackets Save Lives

Boat Responsibly; Life Jackets Save Lives

Four Fatalities Already Reported This Year

A kid smiles in a canoe while holding a fishing pole. An adult in the back of the canoe holds a net with a fish in it that the kid caught.

Boating is a big part of Wisconsin’s culture and summer fun. With that comes the responsibility of making sure to operate your boat in a safe and responsible manner. / Photo Credit: iStock/Willard

National Safe Boating Week is May 21-27. We want to remind boaters that wearing a life jacket could save your life.

It is human nature to think drowning can’t happen to you. Most people who drown in boating accidents know how to swim but become incapacitated in the water due to being injured or unconscious, exhausted or weighed down by clothing.

So far this year, four people have died in boating incidents, and another 25 people died in 2021. Operator inexperience, inattention, recklessness and speeding are the four leading causes of tragic watercraft crashes, and the leading cause of death is drowning.

Boating is a big part of Wisconsin’s culture and summer fun. With that comes the responsibility of making sure to operate your boat in a safe and responsible manner. Part of that is ensuring there are enough life jackets on board for everyone.

Nationally, 80% of all boating related fatalities are the direct result of drowning. Something as simple as wearing your life jacket can significantly mitigate that risk and prevent a fun summer outing from becoming a tragedy.

The department 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 2022 and previous years are available online here.

Statistics show boaters who wear life jackets and take boater safety courses are most likely to stay safe on Wisconsin waters. New life jackets are much more comfortable, lightweight and stylish than the bulky orange style most boaters know. There are innovative options, such as inflatable life jackets, allowing mobility and flexibility for activities like boating, fishing, paddling or hunting and are much cooler in the warmer weather.

Follow the basic safety tips below and enjoy Wisconsin’s open waters with family and friends.


  • Sign up now to take an online boater education course.
  • Always wear a properly fitted life jacket that has a snug fit and is fastened 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.

Be ready for the unexpected and always wear your life jacket. More boating safety tips are available on the DNR website.

Endangered Species Animals Bingo Board

Test Your I.D. Skills With Endangered Species Day Bingo

Thousands of species of native plants and animals call Wisconsin home. Unfortunately, some of them are at risk of being lost forever.

The good news? We’re doing something about it.

The DNR’s Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation helps protect and restore Wisconsin’s rare plants, animals and nearly 700 state natural areas. With the dedication of DNR staff, volunteers and partners, new conservation success stories are being written every day.

Here Are Some Recent Highlights:

  • Bald eagles, a species once on the brink of extinction, are nesting in every county in Wisconsin.
  • In 2021, SNA volunteers invested 5,761 hours of labor on 39 sites, reducing invasive species and restoring critical habitat for rare plants and animals.
  • A population of endangered Karner blue butterflies were found fluttering around a newly restored Central Sands State Natural Area.

Want to test your knowledge of Wisconsin’s endangered species? Check out our Facebook post to see how many you can identify.

Want to give back and help support these special species? Consider showing your support Wisconsin’s rare plants and animals by purchasing an Endangered Resources license plate. Revenues from plate sales go directly to the Endangered Resources Fund which helps fuel critical conservation efforts.

A scenic shot of Bakkens pond featuring a blue sky with a few clouds and a still pond with lilypads.

Clean Air Month – Little Things You Can Do To Make A Big Difference

The days are warming and flowers are blooming. Spring is a season of new growth, and it’s a great opportunity to grow ourselves.

May is Clean Air Month. Making a few simple changes can add up to a healthier environment and cleaner air for everyone.

Here are a few tips to try:

  • Buy locally grown food – purchasing local produce reduces air emissions (Fresh produce typically travels 1,500 miles before being eaten).
  • Keep your lawnmower blades sharp and underside clean – your lawn will look better and the mower will be run more efficiently.
  • Mow less. Ask a local nursery about slow-growing, drought-resistant grass and seed mixtures or try native landscaping.
  • Do not burn leaves or yard waste, compost instead.
  • Save energy at home by using energy-efficient lighting and windows, pull shades closed during the day and open the windows on cooler nights.

Learn more simple ways to improve air quality and health in your neighborhood.