Boat owners are preparing their vessels for another summer on Iowa’s lakes and rivers. Susan Stocker, boating education coordinator with the Department of Natural Resources, says it’s also a good time to brush up on water safety. On average, there are 54 boating related crashes in Iowa every year.
Stocker says there were no fatalities on Iowa waterways in 2008, but there were 10 in 2007. Many of the boating fatalities two years ago involved smaller boats that hit low head dams. Stocker says the D.N.R. has since posted more signs warning boaters about the dangers of low head dams on rivers and streams.
This year, the D.N.R. has partnered with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary on a safety measure at more than 150 boat ramps in the state. Workers have painted "Life Jacket Zone" directly on the concrete ramps. "We want boaters to think about the importance of wearing their life jackets as they’re launching their boat," Stocker said.
Nearly 90% of the drowning victims from boating accidents in the U.S. were not wearing life jackets. There are more than 232,000 boats registered in Iowa. May 16th through the 22nd is designated as National Safe Boating Week.