Boaters heading out for the Labor Day holiday will likely find busy waterways and low water levels.
Susan Stocker, boating law administrator and education coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, said the low water will require boat operators to pay extra attention to hazards starting at the boat ramp.
“Use caution when loading and unloading the boat. Back in only as far as necessary to get the boat on and off the trailer to avoid backing off the ramp,” Stocker said. “Our lakes and rivers are really low so use caution when boating near shore to avoid any low water hazards that have recently been exposed.”
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.
“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 given the drought conditions, boaters should operate in areas they are familiar with and slow their speeds.
Another way to prevent problems is for the boat operator 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.”