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Stay safe paddling this 4th of July holiday and weekend

  • 7/2/2019 11:35:00 AM
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Some Iowa streams are still swollen and swift after a rainy end of June.  While some rivers remain dangerously high, others have dropped to safe levels for paddlers.

“High rivers are super powerful and have unpredictable current along with numerous deadly river hazards,” said Todd Robertson, paddling instructor and Outreach Coordinator for Rivers Programs at the Iowa DNR.  “Piles of trees and branches can suck a paddler in and under with little chance of escape.”

The Iowa DNR learned of a kayaking fatality on the South Skunk River last weekend. Stay safe this holiday weekend and each time you paddle with these simple safety tips.

  • Always wear your life jacket. Kids 12 and under must wear a life jacket at all times when underway on a recreational vessel on any Iowa water. It’s also law that those 13 and over, if not wearing their life jacket, must have a life jacket on board their vessel. “It’s best to wear your life jacket, not just store it on board,” encourages Robertson. “If you are not wearing your life jacket, it probably won’t be there when you really need it.”
  • Tell a friend or loved one where you will be paddling, including what access to what access, and when you are expected to return. It will be easier to find you if you need help.
  • Always know your rivers conditions before you go paddling.  For the latest river conditions, visit the USGS site for Iowa streamflow readings at You can also call the local county conservation board where the river flows through and ask for an update.
  • Check the Iowa DNR’s interactive paddlers map for updates on real-time hazards like downed trees and log jams, strainers and bridge construction: