There's no denying that summer weather is here. What's scary, according to the calendar, the season of summer hasn't even officially started yet.

Somebody should really tell Mother Nature.

If you're searching for ways to beat the heat over the next few days, weeks, and months a trip to a large body of water like an area lake or the Big Sioux River might be in your plans?

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Should you decided to do a little canoeing, kayaking, tubing, paddleboarding, or rafting in the coming days, there is one thing you must bring along and that's a life jacket.

Preferably wearing, but at least having a life jacket onboard your watercraft is required when visiting South Dakota rivers and lakes.

Our friends at Pigeon 605 remind us that failure to do so can open you up to a fairly sizeable fine from the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Department. Your forgetfulness could end up draining your bank account in the neighborhood of around $122.00 if you get caught without one.

The Game, Fish & Parks folks write these tickets not to be jerks but to help save lives.

Floating down the Big Sioux or doing a little canoeing or kayaking in one of South Dakota's area lakes is generally considered a safe activity. With that said, accidents do and will happen on occasion. Canoes and kayaks can easily tip over. Bad things can happen quickly. That's why it's vital that you should always be prepared.

The state of South Dakota issued a total of 92 tickets in 2020 to people for failure to wear a life jacket. That number was down significantly from the previous year due to the pandemic. Game, Fish & Parks typically writes about 150 of those types of citations each year.

According to Pigeon 605, here are the South Dakota rules in terms of the laws that govern life jackets:

Life preservers are required on boats operated on the public waters, as follows:

(1)  All boats less than 16 feet long must have onboard one Coast Guard-approved wearable personal flotation device for each person.

(2)  All boats, other than canoes and kayaks, 16 feet long or more must have onboard one Coast Guard-approved wearable personal flotation device for each person and one Coast Guard-approved throwable device.

(3)  All boats towing persons on water skis, aquaplanes, kneeboards, float tubes, air chairs or similar devices must have onboard a Coast Guard-approved wearable personal floatation device for each person being towed, except if the person being towed has a wearable Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device in the person’s possession.

All flotation devices required by this section must be in serviceable condition, of an appropriate size for the persons for whom they are intended and readily accessible by those persons.

Don't become a statistic this summer. Be smart and remember to always follow safe and responsible canoeing, kayaking, tubing, paddle boarding, rafting, and boating practices.

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Source: Pigeon 605

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