Even though some lakes and rivers are unsafe due to flooding, Iowa’s waterways will be swarming with boats this weekend as there’s a very hot forecast and the 4th of July holiday is just ahead.

Susan Stocker, the boating law administrator with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says the agency is launching its annual Operation Dry Water campaign today.

Stocker says, “It is a heightened awareness to make sure that people understand that using alcohol, drinking alcohol and operating a boat is very dangerous and very hazardous.”

Last summer, 38 people were arrested in Iowa on a charge of Boating While Intoxicated.

“The blood-alcohol content for operating a motor boat is the same, .08, as it is for driving a car,” Stocker says. “When people are out operating their boat, they’re out on the water having a good time, but as soon as they’re done, then they have to get in their vehicle and take their boat home.”

She says a boat operator is just as potentially deadly on the water as they would be on land.

“Being out on the water, even if you are not impaired, the wind, the waves and the sun have an effect on your reaction time,” Stocker says, “so when you add alcohol, then it becomes much more dangerous.”

She reminds boaters to always wear your life jacket, as 85-percent of drowning victims weren’t wearing one. Stocker also touts taking a boating safety education course. She notes 71-percent of deaths occurred on boats where the operator didn’t receive boating safety instruction.

(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)