Many people will be heading out with their boats on area lakes for the first time this weekend. Iowa Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Ben Bergman says if you’ve had your boat in storage all winter and are just getting it out for the first time, you’ll want to give it a thorough check before putting it in the water.

He says you’ll want to inspect the outside of the boat first, and then move to the inside of the boat to make sure that you have working fire extinguishers and life jackets, as well as making sure your lights are working. Bergman says you should know what the speed and distance rules are before heading out.

Bergman says there are “right of way” rules that boaters must adhere to, you must be going 10 miles per hour or less if you are less than 300 feet from shore, and you have to keep a proper distance from other boaters. Bergman says boating and alcohol aren’t a great mix.

He says if people do take alcohol in their boats, they need to be responsible for their actions and not operate a boat while being drunk. Bergman also reminds boaters to make sure their registrations are up to date as the previous ones expired statewide on April 30th. You can check out the state’s boating regulations by going to:

By Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City