Susan Stocker, a boating law administrator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, is hoping it’ll be a safe season on the state’s waterways.
“Our boat accident rate has been going down,” Stocker says. “It all has to do with education and making sure everybody is safe out there.” Iowa’s late spring has probably kept many boats in storage later than normal, increasing the likelihood that Memorial Day weekend will be a busy one on the water.
Stocker is reminding boaters that a life jacket may be the key to survival in the event of an accident. “Make sure that when you are out there boating that you have a wearable life jacket for every person on board and make sure they fit the intended user,” Stocker says.
The boat should also be equipped with fire extinguisher and a horn or whistle. Stocker says getting used to the water each spring is much like re-learning winter driving skills after the first snow fall. She says with a little practice the good habits often return quickly. Stocker adds, if there’s alcohol on the boat, there should also be a designated driver.
In 2014, more than 70 percent of the boating deaths in Iowa involved alcohol, according to Stocker.
(Thanks Pat Blank, Iowa Public Radio)