Headed out this weekend? Recommendations from a SD Game, Fish and Parks officer

PACTOLA RESERVOIR, S.D. – With increased outdoor activity, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks offered up some tips on how to keep your ducks in a row when you’re out on the lake.

“In the summertime, when you’re out on the water, you need to make sure you have safety equipment for everybody on there,” says South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Wildlife Conservation Officer Chris Dekker. 

First, you’ll need life jackets.

What we’re looking for is a lifejacket that properly fits everybody. So if you have kids on the boat, you need to have kid life jackets for them. If you’re an adult, you need to have an adult life jacket. A common thing we see is a lot of life jackets, but none of them fit the people that are on the boat,” Officer Dekker says.

SD GFP BoatingNext is a device to throw into the water.

“The other thing that you need to have with you is a throwable device. So a throwable looks like a seat cushion, it’s going to have loops on there. That’s not a life jacket. It doesn’t count as your life jacket, but you need to have that on there. Those are designed to be thrown through the air to someone who’s in distress in the water.”

Finally, a fire extinguisher is required for some boats, as explained by Officer Dekker.

“The other thing you need to have is you need to have a fire extinguisher. If you’ve got an enclosed gas can, so something where you have to put the fuel nozzle in the side of the boat to fill it up and it’s hidden in a compartment, you need to have that fire extinguisher. That’s there because traps vapors from the gasoline in can ignite, so you have that to help stop any fires that happen to start, and they do prevent boat fires from becoming a total loss.”

In addition to these items, you’ll need a license if you choose to fish. It’s important to be aware of your limits when it comes to taking fish, and to alcohol consumption.

“If you choose to drink alcohol, make sure you’re smart about it. Make sure you have a sober driver for your boat and for your car once you’re back on land again. Also, if you’re on the water and you’re drinking alcohol, if you decide to go for a swim, please make sure to wear your life jacket. Tragedies happen when people are drinking on the water and they’ve decide to go in and they’ve had a little too much. So make sure that you are wearing that life jacket if you’re going in the water,” advises Dekker. 

It’s not just you that you’re responsible for. By keeping an eye on the people and pets you love, tragedy can be prevented.

I encourage people with small children, have them wear a life jacket around the water even if you’re on shore, that keeps them safe. If they fall in the water, they might be cold. They might be wet and scared. But they’ll be safe. You’ll be able to get them out,” he adds. 

Even if you’re on a kayak or paddleboard, Game, Fish and Parks requires that you have a life jacket on board.

“You don’t have to be wearing it, but you have to have it with you, and we highly recommend that you wear it. When I’m out in the summer and I’m on a kayak myself, I’m always wearing my life jacket. I’ve got a comfortable one that fits me well and doesn’t get in the way, but I wear it.”

One last word of advice from Officer Dekker: Enjoy every moment.

“While you’re out there this summer, be smart and be safe. Have fun. And we look forward to seeing you out there.”

Categories: Connect With Us – Segments, Local News, South Dakota News