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Boaters reminded to stay safe on the water

Wisconsin DNR

Law enforcement hopes boaters will keep safety in mind ahead of a busy boating weekend.

"Ignorance is not an excuse. You have to know when you're out there just like when you're driving out on the road," said Portage County Sheriff Mike Lukas.

Driving a boat, much like a vehicle, comes with responsibilities, which means no drinking and driving.

"Just like in a car you have a designated driver, have that in your boat. Everybody can have fun, you can go out on the islands, you can go out on the sand bars and have a good time, but just have somebody that can get you back safely," Lukas said.

When making the guest list for the outing, keep the boat's capacity in mind.

"So look at your capacity plates on your boat because they're designed for so many people and if you overload them especially in a current you can go down quick and it can be very dangerous and very deadly," Lukas said.

As always, have your life vest handy. Law enforcement credited life vests for saving the lives of two people just last weekend. If you do find yourself in an emergency, officials said to remain calm and give them a call.

"We're always ready to respond to any emergency and we anticipate that the call volume might be higher and all of our staff is on duty and ready to respond," said Wausau Fire Department EMS Division Chief Jared Thompson.

The Wausau Fire Department is available for saving lives on land or water.

"We're trained in swift water rescue so if there's any water emergency we can respond to that in a very timely manner and provide any rescue that we need to do," Thompson said.

As you're preparing for your weekend outing, remember to pack your safety gear first and have a plan before you leave.

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