LINCOLN — Nebraskans will enjoy this summer boating on waters across the state. Last week marked National Safe Boating Week, May 16-22, 2020, and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission urged boaters to keep safety the top priority. 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 commission’s 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.
Legal operators — Anyone born after Dec. 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 2020 Nebraska Boating Guide at OutdoorNebraska.gov/guides.
Wear a life jacket — 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.
Avoid alcohol — 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.
Have all required safety equipment — Life jackets, throw cushions, fire extinguishers and bailing devices are required on most boats.
Be wary of surroundings — Look around for other boats, 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 padding a kayak or canoe, be aware of possible debris below the surface or under bridges.
Watch the weather— Storms can pop up quickly in Nebraska. Check the weather in advance and monitor it during the day, if necessary.
Avoid hypothermia — 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.
Go fishing — Fishing is heating up across the state. Get your fishing permit at OutdoorNebraska.org and head to your favorite lake.