Water Patrol doing summer boating safety checks - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Water Patrol doing summer boating safety checks

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by Jamie Grey

BELLEVUE (KWWL) -- Many people used 4th of July weekend to enjoy some time out on Iowa's rivers, but a higher volume of boats can mean more dangerous days on the water.          

Department of Natural Resources officers in Dubuque County say they saw fewer boats out than usual, but they're still looking for safety first and that means being prepared.

Jay Reeg of Bellevue and his family take advantage of living in a river town.

"As much as we can. I mean, usually just weekends, Saturdays and Sundays," Reeg said.

While enjoying the Bellevue waterski show on Sunday, they had to show water patrol their on board safety devices for a routine check.        

"They need to have a life jacket for everyone on board and every person 12 or under needs to be wearing a life jacket while the boat is underway.  They also need a fire extinguisher if the boat is 10 horsepower or more.  They also need a Type IV throwable if the boat is 16 feet or more," Seasonal Water Patrol Officer Matt Grabe said.

Also, boats need a working horn or whistle, and at night, boaters also need to make sure all lights are working.

The DNR is also offering incentives for kids following the life jacket law.  Officers are giving kids free Wendy's frostie coupons if they have their life jackets on during a check.

The Reegs passed the check, something they say their always ready for.      

"Before I take it out the first of the year, I check the fire extinguisher.  Other than that, everything's already on here, and I know how many life jackets I have and how many people I can haul," Reeg said.

Over the 4th of July weekend, officers say most people have had their safety gear correct, but remind people:  They're always out looking.

Officers are also looking for alcohol  It is legal to drink on the water -- but officers say you should use a designated driver.  Intoxicated boaters can be arrested for a BWI or boating while intoxicated.

DNR says the legal limit in Iowa is 0.10, but in Illinois and Wisconsin it's 0.08.  You must be following the law of the officer that pulls you over, so if you're on the Mississippi, you may have to comply with another state's law.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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