With the fourth of July weekend coming up, Montana FWP is reminding people to stay safe if they plan on spending the holiday on the water.

If you are taking a boat or any type of watercraft to a body of water, stop at a watercraft inspection station to ensure your boat is safe on the water. A boat inspection is required, and failure to stop at a station can result in a five hundred dollar fine. Non-Montana residents that wish to take their boat out on the water must purchase a Vessel Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Pass.

About thirty thousand watercraft inspections have happened so far this year. Thirty-one watercrafts had invasive mussels, and ninety were infested with aquatic weeds. The most recent detection occurred Tuesday when mussels were found on a boat anchor traveling to Washington. The boat was decontaminated, locked in their boat trailer, and Washington officials were also notified.  

In 2022 alone, six fatalities have occurred in Montana due to cold water temperatures and high water levels. Montana waters are relatively cold year-round, which can be very dangerous. Cold shock happens within five minutes of being on the water, which can mean hyperventilation and gasping for breath. If this happens, avoid panicking and get your breathing under control. Within 30 minutes of being in extremely cold water, the body starts to lose grip strength and agility, impairing the ability to swim. 

Hypothermia is also a concern in cold waters where the body’s core temperatures begin to cool, resulting in loss of consciousness. Becoming hypothermic can depend on the temperatures of the water as well as clothing and body types. If you suspect someone is suffering from hypothermia, seek medical attention immediately. It is important to always wear a life jacket when out on the water and make sure it is not too big or too small. 

Check water temperatures and weather conditions before traveling for the weekend, and most importantly, be prepared. It is also a good idea to let others know where you are and where you are going. Click on this link to learn more information or locate a watercraft inspection station.