The DNR and McDonald’s of Michigan are teaming up to encourage young boaters to wear their life jackets this summer.

Now through Labor Day, conservation officers will pass out coupons for a free McDonald’s ice-cream cone or apple slice package (valid at participating McDonald’s locations) to youth boaters who are seen properly wearing a life jacket.

“We’re excited to partner with McDonald’s on this boating safety campaign to remind parents to encourage their children to wear life jackets,” said Lt. Tom Wanless. “It’s easy to get distracted on the water, and making sure your child wears a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket is one of the easiest safety precautions you can take.”

According to the most recent U.S. Coast Guard statistics, 75% of boating deaths are due to drowning, and 85% of those victims were not wearing a life jacket.

If you’re planning to be on or near the water this weekend – or at all this summer – take time before you leave shore to ensure you are prepared for a water emergency:

  • Complete an accredited boater safety education program.
  • Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Leave a float plan with someone on shore.
  • Boat sober.
  • Stay alert for swimmers, wildlife, other boaters, escaped fish nets and debris floating near the surface of the water.
  • Make sure your vessel is in good operating condition and pack basic safety gear, including life jackets, a first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, tow rope and anchor.
  • Carry a cell phone or marine radio.
  • Pack water, snacks and weather-appropriate clothing in case you become stranded.

Keep in mind that current water temperatures throughout the state are still chilly, increasing the risk for hypothermia.

Learn more about boating safety or locate a boater safety education course near you at Michigan.gov/Boating.

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