Iowa paddlers are excited to get out this spring after suffering through the 2012 drought that turned Iowa rivers and streams into a trickle. The unusual spring weather has many streams near bank full, flowing fast and cold.
“Many new paddlers don’t realize that even though the air temperature is warm, the water can still be ice cold,” said Todd Robertson, a certified paddling instructor at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources DNR.
“As spring arrives, it takes a while for that water to warm up, making it necessary to have a wetsuit and a change of dry clothes in a dry bag in case you dump your boat.”
Cold water is not the only danger this time of year. Recent rains have caused many streams to be near bank full, so water is flowing fast and the high water has collected fresh debris, like trees and limbs, and deposited them at the base of bridge pilings and the outside of tight bends in the river.
“Having good boat control skills and understanding how to navigate around hazards is crucial to remaining safe while paddling on the rivers,” he said.
Safety Tips for Paddling Iowa Rivers
- Wear your life jacket
- Dress for the water temp, not the air
- Have good boat control skills
- Know river hazards and how to avoid them
- Stay away from strainers, wood/branch piles that can pull a paddler under
- Don’t paddle alone
- Take a dry bag with extra dry clothing
- Let others know where you are paddling and when you are expected back