08/28/13 Labor Day weekend typically marks the end to the summer boating season   for Hoosiers and the beginning of Indiana hunting seasons. Indiana Conservation Officers are encouraging boaters to continue to be mindful of safe boating techniques during the final days of summer and for hunters to revisit their safety plans.

The best way to be safe while boating is to wear your lifejacket. “Lifejackets continue to be the best way to keep our drowning statistics low and our state waterways safe”, said Indiana Boating Law Administrator Lt. Kenton Turner, “Drownings in Indiana are down from 44 in 2012 to 38 so far this year.”

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) states that 85% of drowning victims in recreational boating accidents died because they were not wearing life preservers.

Another boating safety issue is boating while intoxicated. “Indiana Conservation Officers have made 92 boating while intoxicated cases in 2013 compared to 160 in 2012”, said Major Michael Portteus. With the number of drownings and boating while intoxicated incidents down, it appears that boaters are working to be safer on the water.

As various hunting seasons start, over 390,000 people will take to the woods and fields to participate in Indiana’s hunting opportunities”, said Michelle Cain, DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife information specialist, “With that many people in the woods, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and fellow hunters.” All hunters born before December 31, 1986 are required to pass a hunter education course, it is encouraged that all hunters enroll in these courses to learn proper hunting safety techniques.

In 2012, Indiana recorded 42 hunting accidents with 28 falls from elevated stands and 12 firearm discharge accidents with 1 fatality. So far, in 2013 there have been 3 hunting incidents involving a firearm discharge and 1 fall from an elevated tree stand with 1 fatality.

“Tree stand safety is our largest hunting concern and the Indiana Hunter Education Association is working to develop new strategies to inform our citizens about the need for full body harnesses”, said Outdoor Education Lt. Larry Morrison. “Outdoor activities are intended to be enjoyable and safe. We encourage all citizens to visit www.inhea.com and register for a hunter education class in your area.” said Morrison.

Indiana Conservation Officers have created two tree stand safety videos: