Many Iowans will be spending this holiday break in a boat and they’re being reminded to make sure the vessel is ready for the water.
Dustin Eighmy is a conservation officer with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “Make sure that all your fluids are full, check your oil, make sure your batteries are charged – you don’t want to get out there and then your engine won’t start,” Eighmy says. “Make sure you have enough gas. If you run out of gas out there, you could be stranded for several hours.”
Eighmy suggests boat operators, before they head out on a waterway, request a vessel safety check from a DNR officer, a U.S. Army Corps ranger, or a U.S. Coastal Guard official. “One thing we require here in Iowa on all vessels with horsepower of 10 or more is a fire extinguisher,” Eighmy said. “If you have one in the boat, make sure you get it out and check it. Shake it up every now and then. The solvent inside it can settle to the bottom and then when you do need it, it’s not going to work.”
U.S. Coast Guard statistics show 85 percent of all drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket. Most boats should be equipped with other life saving floatation devices.
“If your vessel is over 16-foot in length, you need to have a type-four throwable…most people call them seat cushions. That’s not what they are – they are there to save people if they fall overboard. You can throw them that type-four throwable and get them out of the water,” Eighmy said. Iowa boat owners are also encouraged to make sure their registration is up to date.
“We’re seeing some expired registrations out there,” Eighmy said. “They run on a three-year period. The current registrations now expire in 2019, so we have a couple years left, but we are still seeing some registrations out there that are expired. You cannot be on public waters in the state of Iowa if your vessel is not up to date and registered.”
There are roughly 235,000 registered boats in Iowa.