Top Tips for Fun + Safety on the Lake

The Madison area is home to some amazingly beautiful bodies of water. If you hit it just right, the water is sparkling, refreshing and just waiting for you to hop in and cool down. We have beaches for building sandcastles and catching some rays, boat rentals for trying out SUP or kayaks, and plenty of ways to swim, fish, boat and cool off in the heat. 

From smaller, perfect-for-kayaking gems like Lake Wingra to large, tubing-and-water-skiing destinations like Mendota, we have lakes of all sizes and for all activities. Here’s a great list to get you started if you’re looking for local watering holes. 

While we LOVE our lakes here in Madison, there are definitely some tips you should know before you go to make sure your day on the water is both fun AND safe. The excitement of a day at the beach and on the water can be overwhelming, so make sure to take a look at these reminders before you head out, and definitely check the water report from Public Health Dane County to make sure the water is safe for swimming. 

Here are our Top Tips for Fun + Safety on the Lake!

  1. Lifejackets are required for kids under 13 in Wisconsin. Make sure you check the fit, tighten (or loosen) straps as needed, and have enough life jackets for everyone on your boat. For swimming, make sure to use a life jacket or other coast-guard approved flotation device.
  2. Check the weather. As we Wisconsinites know, weather can turn quickly. Check the hourly forecast, and take yourself to shore if you see the skies darkening. 
  3. Check the water quality report. Unfortunately our local lakes can get dangerous blue-green algae (typically later in the summer). Make sure to check the water report before you hop in.
  4. Never go alone. Don’t boat alone on the water, and make sure you have a way of calling for help in case of emergency.
  5. Never drink and boat. Same rules apply on the water as on the road. Keep yourself thinking clearly to make sure you are able to drive safely.
  6. Water watcher. Always have someone in charge of watching your swimmer, tuber, water-skier. Even if you are hanging on the sand and not expecting your child to enter the water, PLEASE be watching anyway. 
  7. Sunscreen. Apply, reapply and reapply depending on how long you are outside! Water reflects the sun back and you can get burned quickly while out boating or floating. 
  8. Be prepared. Bring snacks, water, cell phone charger, towels, a change of clothes, diapers, etc. 

While you’ve likely heard these tips before, we’ll never stop sharing reminders on how to stay safe on the water! We hope you have a blast on our beautiful lakes this summer!