Boaters heading out for the Labor Day holiday will likely find busy waterways across the state.
Susan Stocker, boating law administrator and education coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, said boat operators need to operate with caution, watch for other boaters and for hazards in the water.
The three-day weekend marks the unofficial end of summer and will likely produce heavy boat traffic, busy ramps, and placing boating etiquette at a premium.
“Everyone is excited to get on the water,” she said. “Be patient, and when it’s your turn be ready to launch. Courtesy on the water goes a long way in avoiding problems.”
She said an obvious way to prevent problems is for boat operators to avoid alcohol while operating the craft.
“We want boaters to have fun on the water, but we don’t want that fun to end in a boating tragedy. Boaters need to keep safety in mind while on the water,” Stocker said.
Preparing for a safe day on the water begins in the driveway. Make sure to have a properly fitting life jacket for each person on board and that all of the safety equipment, including a properly working fire extinguisher, is on board.
“Remember, life jackets only work when worn,” Stocker said. “Life jackets float, you don’t.”
Boating safety tips
- Alcohol and boating don’t mix. Wind, sun, glare and heat can enhance the effects of alcohol hindering the operator’s ability to make decisions.
- Before leaving the house, check the trailer lights, wheel bearings and the hitch.
- Make sure there is a current fire extinguisher and horn/whistle, a wearable life jacket for everyone and a USCG approved throwable device onboard.
- File a float plan with a friend, including your destination, expected time of return and type of boat.
- Wear your lifejacket - it floats, you don’t.
- Inflatable lifejackets are light weight, comfortable and USCG approved. Wear it.
- Take a boater education course. It has valuable information and many insurance companies will offer a discount on boat insurance.
- Top two safety violations in Iowa are having inadequate life jackets and operating too fast and too close to other vessels.