Iowa (KCAU) — With Memorial Day Weekend approaching the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is providing tips to help keep Iowans safe when taking their boats out onto the water.  

According to a release from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), boaters are being asked to remain cautious during the Memorial Day weekend.  

The release indicated that safety should be the top priority of all boaters, citing that there were 33 boating incidents in 2021. 26 of the incidents were personal injury, 17 involved property damage, and three resulted in fatalities.  

“Now is the time to review Iowa boating laws and plan to have patience at the ram and on the water,” said Boating Law Administrator and Education Coordinator for the Iowa DNR Susan Stocker, “With the recent storms across the state, boaters should use extra caution for floating debris and higher waters.”  

Stocker indicated that it would be best to have someone on the boat be a lookout for large debris. Debris can often cause damage to boating vessels because only a small portion of the item will be poking out of the water. She also stated that it is best to ensure that the boat ramps are open before heading out.  

The release urged boaters to assign a designated driver, or a sober individual, to operate the boat and be on the lookout for other vessels as well as maintain a reasonable speed.  

Inspecting the vessel and ensuring that there are life jackets, and checking the fire extinguisher, boat and trailer lights, whistle, and throwable floatation devices are recommended.  

Drain plugs and other water draining devices are required to be removed or remain open during transport to avoid spreading invasive species. 

Anglers leaving with fish are advised to put them on some ice during transport, whether that be in a cooler, a bucket, or other transport options.  

The release stated that there are more than 231,000 registered boats in Iowa.  

Other safety tips provided by the DNR include:  

  1. Be mindful of alcohol consumption. Wind, sun, and heat can enhance the effects of alcohol. Never allow an inebriated person to operate the vessel.  
  1. Check for open ramps or water hazards beforehand.  
  1. File a float plan with a friend that includes the intended destination, expected time of return, and the type of boat.  
  1. Wear lifejackets, “It floats, you don’t.”  
  1. Take a boater education course. Available here.  

The release stated that the top two safety violations in Iowa include not having adequate life jackets and operating too fast and too close to other vessels.