Anyone who knows the beautiful municipalities that cover the stretch from Western Waukesha County to Eastern Dane County realizes that they are beloved for their sparkling lakes and streams. In fact, the Oconomowoc, Pewaukee, and Delafield areas are traditionally known as the “Lake Country.”
The days from late Thursday, July 21, 2022 through early Monday, July 25, 2022 were incredibly traumatic for our communities and should serve as a cautionary tale for all Wisconsinites who enjoy not only the Lake Country Area, but every waterway in the state. Given these tragedies that have shocked the 38th Assembly District, we should all review the boating safety tips provided on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Boat/safety.
Major takeaways include:
- Wear a life jacket or at least have one on the watercraft for each person aboard; fines can be issued if a boater is not compliant. A throwable device for flotation rescue is recommended as well.
- Watch the weather! As proven over the last few weeks, Wisconsin weather can change on a dime. Winds can stir up currents quickly, so respect rough waters.
- Watch your alcohol intake on the water! Drunken boating or swimming can quickly become dangerous.
I would add to our DNR’s list:
1) Be careful if you aren’t very familiar with the lake you are navigating, especially before jumping off a boat and into the water. Some of our waterways are deceivingly shallow, silty, or rocky on the bottom. Always enter the water feet first if you are unfamiliar with the depth.
2) Always make sure you are properly anchored before getting out of a boat to swim. A watercraft can drift away very quickly, especially with strong currents or on a windy day, which can leave a swimmer stranded.
Our Wisconsin lakes and rivers are the jewels of the state. Have respect for them while you enjoy them. None of us, community, family or first responders, want to see any more loss of life on Wisconsin waterways.