DNR releases springtime reminders about flooding and the dangers of cold water

Flooding might not be on everyone’s minds this year, given last year’s extensive drought, but the DNR says it is always important to be prepared for flood conditions.

“Much of Minnesota was in severe drought last year and snowmelt has been gradual and prolonged for much of the state this spring, but drought doesn’t mean floods won’t happen,” State Climatologist Luigi Romolo said.

“Because of climate change, Minnesota has experienced a significant increase in extreme rainstorms over large areas since 2000. The combination of extreme rain events and drier ground can add up to serious flooding without much warning.”

To help prepare your community or property for flooding, learn about floodplains, related permit and zoning regulations and flood insurance, be aware of flood forecasts and stream flow reports for nearby waterways, and to find out more, visit the DNR’s flood plain webpage.

The weather so far in April has been anything but consistent, and the same can be said for the ice-out status.

With the fishing opener only weeks away, the DNR reminds boaters and paddlers that cold water is dangerous, even for strong swimmers.

Around 30 percent of fatal boating accidents happen during the cold-water period and in most cases, the victims weren’t wearing a life jacket.

“For many of us, our most cherished memories revolve around time spent on the water,” said Lt. Adam Block, boating law administrator for the DNR Enforcement Division.

“But the water can be cruel and unforgiving, and failing to take the proper precautions before heading onto it can have disastrous consequences.”

As boaters and paddlers take their first trips of the year onto the water, they should:

  • Ensure their boat is registered and equipped with proper safety equipment, and that all pieces are functioning properly.
  • Wear a life jacket (a foam life jacket is more effective than an inflatable life jacket during the cold-water season).
  • Distribute weight evenly and abide by the manufacturer’s weight limits to reduce the likelihood of falling overboard.
  • Have a means of communication. Boaters also should let other people know where they’re going and when they plan to return.
  • Watch the weather to avoid shifting winds or storms.

For those planning bonus days on the lingering ice:

  • Wear a life jacket and carry readily accessible ice picks.
  • Check the ice thickness frequently.
  • Double the DNR’s ice thickness recommendations, which apply to new, clear ice.

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