The Memorial Day Holiday weekend is here. And boating season is back. Be it on State Lakes, the Great Lakes, rivers, or streams– the Department of Natural Resources want boaters to be responsible.

The DNR simply wants to remind everyone to put safety first during Michigan’s unofficial start of summer.


Lt. Tom Wanless, state boating law administrator and recreational safety, education and enforcement supervisor with the DNR, encouraged everyone, before ever leaving shore, to get up to date on boating laws and regulations and ensure that boats and personal watercrafts (such as Jet Skis) – and life jackets and other safety gear – are shipshape.

“Taking time now can prevent potential problems later, because accidents can happen at any time and weather can quickly affect water conditions on inland waters and the Great Lakes,” Wanless said. “Familiarizing yourself and your fellow boaters with valuable safety tips and equipment can mean the difference between a great day on the water and a needlessly tragic outcome.”

Accident reports submitted to the DNR show that in 2020 there were 181 boating accidents reported in Michigan, including 33 fatalities. Additionally, the U.S. Coast Guard reports that, nationally, drowning is the cause of death in 79% of all boating-related fatalities.

Riding with an operator who has completed an approved boating safety course and wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket are two ways to reduce the risk of recreational boating accidents and drowning. More safety tips are available on the DNR’s boating webpage.

Anyone born after June 30, 1996, must have a boating safety certificate to operate a boat. Anyone born after Dec. 31, 1978, who plans to operate a personal watercraft also is required to have a valid boater education safety certificate. The DNR offers boating safety education as an online and traditional classroom course to teach new and experienced boaters about current laws and basic survival skills.

Learn more about boating opportunities, safety information and other resources at