Keep safety in mind if you plan to hit the water this weekend

Dog wearing life jacket
Dave Hagengruber, FWP Information and Education Program Manager
Posted at 5:20 PM, May 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 19:20:10-04

GREAT FALLS — If you’re going to be hitting the water over the Memorial Day weekend, be sure you keep safety in mind.

Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks says you should plan ahead and know the area you’re going to be in; tell someone where you’re going; and don’t drink and boat, as that is just as dangerous as drinking and driving.

Keep in mind the water may be higher or lower than the last time you were there and there may be things, such as tree branches, that weren’t there before.

Most importantly, however, always wear a lifejacket.

"Even though this weekend looks like it's going to be a beautiful weekend for temperatures, water is still really cold. It's spring, it's high water, it's runoff. Hypothermia is a real issue if you do end up in the water, which makes the life jackets more important than ever,” said Dave Hagengruber, FWP Information and Education Program Manager.

FWP also asks that you drain and dry your boat when you’re done so you don’t unintentionally transport any invasive species.


  • Immersion in cold water can kill in just minutes—the colder the water, the greater the risk. One's swimming ability does not improve one's chances of survival. Research shows that a sudden immersion into cold water (65° (F) or less) starts as a series of incapacitating reflexes that increase the risk of drowning. Many waterbodies in Montana are fed from high mountain springs and don't get above 65° even in the summer making cold water immersion a threat all year long.
  • It is unlawful to operate or be in actual physical control of a motorboat, sailboat, water skis, surfboard, or similar device attached to a motorboat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A person with an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more is considered under the influence of alcohol. [MCA 61-8-4] Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Where the primary cause was known, alcohol was listed as the leading factor in 23% of deaths.