The Memorial Day holiday is approaching and Iowa waterways are getting busier as summer-like weather is sending more boat owners to the get their boats from storage, cleaned up and heading to the water.
Getting the boat seaworthy should include checking the boat and safety equipment at home to prevent problems or delays on the water, said Susan Stocker, boating law administrator and education coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
“It only takes a few minutes and if there is a problem, it is better to address that at home and not after you have launched. We don’t want boaters to have to leave the water because of things that could have been corrected simply by going through the boat and trailer,” Stocker said.
Stocker said patience and ramp courtesy are at a premium during busy weekends and especially on holidays.
“I would encourage boaters to prepare their boat for launching before it is their turn on the ramp because there will likely be a line of traffic behind them,” Stocker said. “The ramps will be busy, we know that. Be patient and respectful to other boaters. Everyone has the same goal of getting on the water.”
Once on the water, boaters are encouraged to operate in a way that keeps their passengers safe while watching out for other boaters.
“The top safety tip is for boat operators to avoid drinking alcohol because of how it impairs their reaction time and the ability to make quick, sound judgments. Wind, sun, glare off the water and wave action enhance the effects of alcohol so boaters are encouraged to know their limits,” Stocker said. “Boaters should also review the rules and wear a properly fitting lifejacket.”
There are nearly 229,000 registered boats in Iowa.
2011 Boating Statistics
- 54 arrests for Boating While Intoxicated, top four counties for arrests are Polk, Dubuque, Jackson, Johnson
- 38 boating accidents, 24 injuries, 4 fatalities
2012 Operation Dry Water – June 22-24
This three day event is part of a national ad campaign on the effects and dangers of drinking and boating. Campaign includes increased law enforcement on the water, safety checks and boater contacts. In 2011, 50 officers contacted 799 boaters, performed 209 safety checks and issued 45 citations/warnings.