Know safety tips before fun on the lake

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Slow-no-wake zone: Is defined as the minimum speed required to maintain steerage. Includes all boaters and jet skis. Boaters watch your distance, 100 FEET: WI law prohibits boaters within 100 feet of shoreline, docks, rafts, piers, swimmers and buoyed restricted areas. Jet skis watch your distance, 200 FEET: Cannot operate at a speed greater than slow-no-wake within 200 feet of the shoreline of any lake. They also are required to cut back to slow-no-wake speed when passing within 100 feet of other boats, including other jet skis.

Life jackets: required for kids under 13. A life jacket is required for every person on your boat.

Jet ski safety: A USCG approved life jacket is required. Do not operate between sunset and sunrise. Be mindful of wildlife (geese and loons). Must be at least 12 years old to operate, see below.

Paddle boards: Life jacket is recommended. Fastest growing water sport in the world!

Age to operate? Anyone born on or after January 1, 1989 is required to complete a boating safety course to legally operate a motorized boat or jet ski. Must be at least 10 years old to operate a motorboat; 10 to 11-year-olds must be accompanied by parent or someone at least 18 years old. Must be at least 12 years old to operate a jet ski. Persons at least 12 but less than 16 years of age may operate a personal watercraft if they have successfully completed a DNR prescribed Boating Safety Course and possess a safety certificate issued by the Department or state of their residency. Parental accompaniment may not be substituted for possession of a valid DNR safety certificate.

Sunset to sunrise: WI law… no skiing, no towing, no jet skis

Other checklist items: Is there a fire extinguisher on the boat? Is there a throwable floatation device on the boat? Test all of the lights work for sunset cruising? Is there a lifejacket on board for everyone? Leave alcohol on shore and never use alcohol before or during operating a craft on the water.

Wildlife caution: Watch out for loons! They are hard to see and cherished on our lake.  Stay clear of geese families by 100 feet.

More boating safety tips »
Wisconsin fishing licenses
Wisconsin boating laws » 
Polk County laws »

10 most common boating violations

  • Failure to provide life jackets for all on board.
  • Operating boat without valid certificate of number.
  • Operating boat in prohibited area, in excess of speed limit on lakes 50 acres or less, or in excess of fixed limits.
  • Personal Watercraft (jet ski) violations.
  • Operating motorboat while under the influence of an intoxicant, or operating motorboat with BAC of 0.1% or greater.
  • Operating within 100 feet of dock, raft, swimmer, pier, etc.
  • Operating boat at night without required lights.
  • Failure to display registration number or decal on boat.
  • Failure to secure or cover storage battery.
  • Failure to have certificate of number on board.