NORTH IOWA OUTDOORS: Heavy Boat Traffic Expected for Labor Day Weekend

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 and to watch for hazards in the water.

The weekend weather forecast is favorable for boaters and combined with a three day weekend should produce heavy boat traffic. Stocker said ramps will likely be busy, placing boating etiquette at a premium.

She said an obvious way to prevent problems is for boat operators to avoid alcohol while operating the craft.

Preparing for a safe day on the water begins in the driveway. Make sure to have and that all of the safety equipment, including a properly working fire extinguisher. Also, make sure that there is a properly fitted life jacket for each person on board

  Remember, life jackets float, you don’t.

  At the end of your boating trip, make sure to clean, drain, and dry your boat.

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 on board.
  • 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 lightweight, comfortable and USCG approved. Wear them.
  • 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.
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