Heavy Boat Traffic Expected for Labor Day Weekend, DNR Urges Caution, Common Sense

Okoboji at night from city dockDes Moines, Iowa — Boaters heading out for the Labor Day holiday will likely find busy waterways and lower water levels.

Susan Stocker, boating law administrator and education coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says that boat operators need to operate with caution and to watch for hazards in the water, starting at the boat ramp. She says they should use caution when loading and unloading the boat.  She says to back in only as far as necessary to get the boat on and off the trailer to avoid backing into a scour hole or off the end of the ramp.

The weekend weather forecast is favorable for boaters and combined with a three day weekend should produce heavy boat traffic. Stocker says ramps will likely be busy, placing boating etiquette at a premium. She says that everyone is excited to get on the water and says that her advice is to be patient, and when it’s your turn be ready to launch.

point oh eight BWI 08She says an obvious way to prevent problems is for boat operators to avoid alcohol while operating the craft.

She says that preparing for a safe day on the water begins in the driveway, and to make sure to have a properly-fitting life jacket for each person on board. She says to make sure that all of the safety equipment, including a properly working fire extinguisher, is on board. She also reminds boaters that although the law only stipulates having enough life jackets for those on board, life jackets only work when you wear them.

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.
  • High water is impacting certain areas. Check for open ramps or water hazards before heading out.
  • 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 boatinsurance.
  • Top two safety violations in Iowa are having inadequate life jackets and operating too fast and too close to other vessels.
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