DES MOINES, Iowa (KCAU) – The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is urging everyone on Iowa waterways or at public beaches to use caution and exercise all of the safety measures to ensure a safe and enjoyable time.

Over a three day period between Saturday and Monday, the Iowa DNR conservation officers responded to drownings across the state that resulted in five deaths.

Two of those drownings happened in Plymouth and Woodbury counties.

Iowa DNR said initial reports are that many weren’t wearing life jackets at the time of the drownings.

Officials would like to remind everyone to take note of the safety tips with recreating in Iowa.


The common safety tips while enjoying Iowa’s lakes and rivers include:

  • Wear your life jacket, it floats, you don’t! Any children from the age of 12 and under must wear a lifejacket at all times on a vessel underway in Iowa.
  • Every boat or vessel must have a wearable life jacket for everyone on board; a USCG approved throw-able flotation device is also required on vessels 16’ or longer.
  • Alcohol and boating don’t mix. Wind, sun glare, and heat can enhance the effects of alcohol, hindering the operator’s ability to make necessary decisions.
  • The same limit of .08 for operating a vehicle under the influence applies to boating.
  • Always have a designated operator that avoids consuming alcohol.
  • Make sure there is a charged fire extinguisher onboard, as well as a horn/whistle.
  • Slow down and watch for other boaters or personal watercraft, have patience.
  • Avoid dams and other hazards on waterways.
  • Obey all posted warning signs and rules.
  • Drain plugs and other water draining devices must be removed and/or remain open during transport to avoid the spreading of invasive species.


Iowa DNR Parks are reminding visitors to keep their physical distance from others, to not gather in groups larger than 10, and to obey all of the posted signage and rules. Alcohol is prohibited at some of the public beaches.

They’re also encouraging visitors to utilize the non-leak times and days due to the beaches being busier this summer.

For the busier beaches and parks, the non-peak days usually include Sundays through Thursdays and Friday before 5 p.m.

If you’re planning to go to the beach on Saturdays, the non-peak hours are normally before 12 p.m.

The DNR Parks staff said it may temporarily close parking lots when they become full and limit the number of visitors at that particular point.

Officials are recommending visitors to go to another nearby park or beach that doesn’t have a lot of people.

Visitors are being reminded to park in the designated parking spaces only and all violators will be cited by the staff.

The common safety tips while swimming at the beaches include:

  • Stay within the roped-in area
  • Swim with a buddy
  • Obey posted signs and flags
  • Wear a life jacket or some kind of personal flotation device if needed
  • Use sunscreen and drink plenty of water as needed
  • Iowa’s public beaches do not have lifeguards on duty


There are many new paddlers who are getting out into the water for the first time this summer.

Iowa DNR said to use these simple safety tips each time you paddle to stay safe:

  • Always wear your life jacket. Kids from the age of 12 and under must wear a life jacket at all times. The vessel must have enough life jackets for all members on board. 
  • Let others know where you will be paddling, including what access to what access, and when you are expected to return.
  • Avoid sandbar crowds and “rafting” up together. Tubers are reminded not to go in groups larger than 10 and don’t tie tubes to one another.
  • Always know your river conditions before you go paddling.  For the latest river conditions, click here
  • Check the Iowa DNR’s interactive paddler’s map by visiting their website for updates on real-time hazards like downed trees and log jams, strainers, and bridge construction. Pay attention to the dam warning signs and know where dams are located before you head out on the water.
  • Find individual water trail maps, including access points, click here.

The Iowa DNR wants to wish everyone a safe and enjoyable time while enjoying Iowa’s natural resources.