Nebraskans will enjoy boating this summer on waters across the state. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission urges boaters to keep safety their top priority.
Boaters and paddlers should not take safety for granted. The Commission 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 web site. 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. Kayak launches remain closed at Platte River State Park, Schramm Park SRA and Louisville SRA.
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. Visit BoatSafeNebraska.org for a list of class locations or to take an online class. Anyone operating a motorboat or personal watercraft in Nebraska must be at least 14 years of age.
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. For a list of what is required on a boat, check out the 2019 Boating Guide at BoatSafeNebraska.org.
Be Aware of Surroundings – Look around for other boats, personal watercraft, swimmers, stumps and other hazards. Speeds in excess of 5 mph are prohibited 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.
Avoid heat exhaustion – People should take measures to protect themselves and their pets from the heat by staying hydrated and avoiding prolonged periods in the heat without breaks.
Go Fishing – Get your fishing permit and make some family memories together. Take someone new, submit a photo at OutdoorNebraska.org/TakeEmFishing and you could win a brand new boat.