LINCOLN – As National Safe Boating Week comes to a close on Friday, boating safety should remain the top priority.
According to a release from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, boaters and paddlers should not take safety for granted.
Game and Parks suggests ways boaters may reduce the risk of incidents and help ensure a safe and enjoyable day on the water.
Before launching, ensure your boat is in good running condition. Get the boat registered and, if a nonresident, purchase an Aquatic Invasive Species sticker on the Game and Parks’ website. Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. Paddlers of kayaks or canoes should physically inspect their planned take-out point to make sure it is accessible.
Children under age 13 and anybody on a personal watercraft are required by law to wear a United States Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device. People being towed by a boat on skis, a tube or other similar device also must wear a life jacket. Every vessel, except sailboards, must carry a flotation device for each person on board. Throw cushions, fire extinguishers and bailing devices are required on most boats.
Make sure to look around for other boats and be wary of your surroundings for personal watercraft, swimmers, stumps and other hazards. Speeds in excess of 5 mph are prohibited if within 30 yards of any other vessel, swimming area or dock. If paddling a kayak or canoe, be aware of possible debris below the surface or under bridges.
Boat operators can become impaired with less alcohol than motor vehicle drivers due to heat and dehydration. Boating Under the Influence is a criminal violation and is enforced actively.
Stay alert with the weather as storms can pop up quickly in Nebraska. Check the weather in advance and monitor it during the day, if necessary.
Even though temperatures are rising, the water still can be cold. Hypothermia is caused by exposure to cold weather or water. Take caution to prevent hypothermia.
Also, anyone born after December 31, 1985, who operates a motorboat or personal watercraft in Nebraska must have successfully completed the Nebraska boating safety course. Anyone operating a motorboat or personal watercraft in Nebraska must be at least 14 years of age.
For more information about boating regulations, view the 2022 Nebraska Boating Guide at outdoornebraska.gov/guides.