Boating safety tips - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Boating safety tips

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JOHNSON COUNTY (KWWL) -

The McMann family took their boat out on Coralville Lake for the first time this year on Saturday.

"We get to go out on the water and just hang out with our family," said 11-year-old Brandon McMann.

For this family, safety comes first. All the kids have their life jackets on before they even get on the water. It's one of many safety rules they make sure to follow.

"We've got the first aid kit.," said Brooke McMann, of Cedar Rapids. "We've got a fire extinguisher. We've got a throwable. There's as many life jackets as people that can ride."

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources recommends all those steps. The DNR enforces navigation regulations on the water, making sure buoys are obeyed and seeing that other boaters are as prepared as the McManns.

"We focus mostly on safety related things," said Erika Billerbeck, Conservation Officer. "Making sure you have the correct safety equipment on board and looking for alcohol related violations."

Just like on the road it's illegal to drive a boat with a blood alcohol content level higher than .08.

"It's basically enforced like it is on the highways," said Billerbeck. "We're stopping boats and checking to make sure the drivers are sober and if they're not we're arresting them."

Last year, officers made 95 arrests for boating while intoxicated in Iowa. Even more people violated other rules of the water by driving too quickly or by not having enough life jackets onboard. That's never a problem for the McManns.

"So I can stay safe in case the boat sinks or if I fall off so I don't sink," said Brandon.

Iowa boating laws require anyone under 13 to wear a life jacket at all times. And, any person 12 to 17 must complete a Boater Education Program before driving on the water.

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