A big reason people enjoy boating is that they can spend time outside in the sun and on the water. Soaking up the sun on a warm sunny day while cruising around a lake in a boat is one of the best feelings. Breathing in the fresh air while there's a slight breeze. There's not anything that can compare.

At this time of year boats and other watercraft are hitting the water in full force. North Dakota Game and Fish Department urges boaters to keep safety in mind when enjoying time on the water.

Make sure a boat has enough life jackets on board for all passengers. Failure to wear a personal flotation device is the main reason people lose their lives in water recreation accidents. North Dakota law requires all children ages 10 and younger to wear a personal flotation device while in boats of less than 27 feet in length. The law also requires all personal watercraft users to wear a life jacket, as well as anyone towed on skis, tubes, boards or other similar devices.

However, state law allows an individual who is at least 16 years of age to windsurf or board sail without wearing a PFD.

Water users should make sure to wear life jackets that are the appropriate size, and in good condition. It is also important that children wear a PFD while swimming.

Water skiers and tubers should wear a life jacket with four nylon straps rather than one with a zipper, because straps are stronger than zippers upon impact with water. Anglers or persons paddling a canoe should opt for a PFD that is comfortable enough to wear for an entire outing. Paddle sports such as stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking and canoeing are increasing in popularity in North Dakota. The Department encourages anyone getting into these on-the-water activities to take their free online paddle sports safety course.

For individuals that are 12 through 15 years of age that want to be able to operate a watercraft without an adult, they need to have taken a boat and water safety course. There are boating education courses available for adults and children.

For all the rules and regulations you can pickup a boat and water safety guide, or visit gf.nd.gov

Montana law requires all boats to carry a U.S. Coast Guard-approved wearable type life jacket for each person on board. Children under 12 are required to wear their life jacket when on board.

MT Hunters & Anglers:
A life jacket is required to be on board if:

* Angler sits above water surface

* Vessel is designed to be rowed or paddled. Angler might also use kicking fins

* Vessel can carry more than one person

A life jacket is not required but recommended when:

* Angler's body sits on the water

* Vessel is propelled by kicking fins

Note: If a motor is attached, it is considered a boat. It must be registered as a motorboat and a life jacket is required to be carried on board.


If your car is damaged, the responding police officer, sheriff's deputy, or state trooper completes any necessary reports. However, if you are the skipper or owner of the boat that was involved in the collision or accident, you are required to fill out and submit a formal accident report to your state's boating regulator.

Accidents do happen, no matter how careful and safe boaters are when out on the water. What is the first thing you should do after a boating accident?

In a boating accident, you should check whether you or anyone else requires medical attention. If anyone has injuries, call for professional help right away. Federal law requires that you report some boating accidents to the proper authorities. Boating law enforcement agencies vary by state.

A boating accident report must be filled out and submitted to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department within 48 hours of the incident if there are injuries, fatalities, or missing persons.

A boat operator has five days to submit a report if property damage totals more than $2,000 but there are no fatalities or injuries. No matter how many boats are involved, these reporting rules must be followed.

Don’t confuse insurance claims with accident reports. They’re not the same, and filing one does not replace filing the other.

You can find a boat accident form on the Game and Fish Department website, gf.nd.gov, at any Game and Fish office, or by getting in touch with your neighborhood game warden.

In Montana, Boating accident reports are required by law and provide valuable information for use in the prevention of future boating accidents.

An accident must be reported immediately to the local sheriffs office or game warden if it caused:

* The death or disappearance of any person
* An injury requiring medical treatment beyond first-aid
* Property damage in excess of $100

The operator of a boat involved in a collision, accident, or other casualty must:

Render practical assistance, without putting self or others in danger, to persons affected by the accident.
Give his or her name, address and identification of the boat in writing to any person injured and to the owner of any damaged property.
Boating accident report forms are available from the county sheriff's office, game wardens, or any Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks office.

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