Two drownings this week in Des Moines brought to 19 the number of people who’ve drowned this year in Iowa. The Department of Natural Resources is proposing changing state law for boaters, to keep kids safer. While not all the water-related fatalities have happened among boaters, the DNR’s Kevin Baskins says several might have been prevented if victims had been wearing life jackets. “Emergencies on the water are unforeseen,” he explains, “and in that millisecond that somebody gets thrown into the water, that’s when they actually need id. If they don’t have a life jacket on, it doesn’t do them any good.” Baskins says the law requires boaters to have a life jacket in the boat for each passenger and “readily available,” though they aren’t required to wear the flotation devices. The change proposed by the DNR would require any children under 13 who’re passengers in a boat to be strapped into the safety jackets. Baskins says he’s bothered as a professional to hear people ask about what their kids are legally required to do, when he says they should be asking themselves what would save their child’s life when something happens on the water. Baskins says it’s a signal something needs to be done to increase safety, with the number of Iowa drownings up. He calls it a “fairly significant” increase, noting that in 2004 there were 11, in 2004 there were 10 and in 2002 Iowa saw 14 drownings all year.
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