MNR partners with Michigan’s McDonald’s for summer boating safety campaign


Just in time for Memorial Day weekend, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Michigan’s McDonald’s are teaming up again to raise awareness of the importance of boater safety and wearing a life jacket.

It’s also National Safe Boating Week (May 21-27), a week dedicated to promoting responsible boating and encouraging boaters to always wear life jackets when out on the water.

From Memorial Day weekend through the Labor Day holiday, conservation officers will distribute vouchers to young and teenage boaters who appropriately wear a life jacket while actively boating. Vouchers are good for a free ice cream cone or pack of apple slices at participating Michigan McDonald’s locations.

“It was great to see the kids (and their parents) getting so excited and having a positive interaction with law enforcement last year when our officers rewarded them for being safe on the water,” said said Lt. Tom Wanless, Administrator of the State Boating and Recreation Act. Supervisor of Safety, Education and Enforcement with MNR. “A fun day of boating starts with safety. A tasty treat on the way home is a great way to end the day. We hope parents will take the opportunity to discuss the importance of boating safety with their children.

In 2020, the US Coast Guard reported drowning as the cause of death in 75% of boating-related fatalities nationwide. Michigan-specific statistics for the same year include:

  • 159 nautical accidents.
  • 29 fatalities involved in boating accidents.
  • Over $2,204,000 in damage.

Boating with an operator who has completed an approved boating safety course and wearing a US Coast Guard approved life jacket are two ways to reduce the risk of boating accidents and drownings.

If you plan to operate a boat in Michigan — and you were born after June 30, 1996 — you need a boating safety certificate. If you were born after December 31, 1978 and plan to operate a personal watercraft, such as a jet ski, you also need a valid boater training safety certificate. DNR offers boating safety training in the form of online and traditional in-class courses to teach new and experienced boaters about applicable laws and basic survival skills.

Wanless encourages everyone, before leaving shore, to get up to date on boating laws and regulations and to ensure that boats and personal watercraft (such as jet skis) – as well as life vests rescue and other safety equipment – are in good condition.

“Taking the time to make sure you’re browsing safely now can prevent potential issues later,” Wanless said. “Accidents can happen at any time and weather conditions can quickly affect water conditions in inland waters and the Great Lakes. Acquainting yourself and your fellow boaters with valuable safety tips and gear can be the difference between a great day on the water and an unnecessarily tragic outcome.

McDonald’s coupons are valid at participating McDonald’s locations in Michigan. Learn more about boating opportunities, safety information, and other resources at

Note to editors: Accompanying photos are available below for download. Caption information follows.

boating: Conservation officers Thomas Jaakkola (left) and Mike Drexler (right) gave out vouchers for free McDonald’s treats to two children who were spotted wearing life jackets while boating on Bruin Lake, located in Washtenaw County, September 2021.


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