WATERLOO, Neb. (KMTV) — The opening weekend for boating is Memorial Day, so says State of Nebraska Conservation Officer Rich Berggren. For those ready to launch, he wants to mention a few reminders to keep safe on the water this weekend.
"Anybody that's born after December 31, 1985 has to complete a boating safety course and it's required to complete that and have the course card on you, just like a driver's license," Berggren said.
There are a few required materials you need that include a properly fitted life jacket, a throwable flotation device that you can throw to someone in the water, a noisemaking device such as a whistle, bell or air horn to signal for help or to avoid collisions, a properly charged fire extinguisher and bailing bucket.
"You're operating a boat: there's no seat belts in there, nothing to stop you for a crash, if you go over water, you need a life jacket because everything floats away and you don't float and the life jackets do," Berggren said.
He stresses that boat injuries can be very graphic and are usually fatal.
Beyond the protection of you and your passengers, you must also protect your boat and the ecosystem living within area lakes. Four years ago, the Omaha Parks and Recreation Department warned about zebra mussels at Cunningham Lake, asking boaters to take extra caution with the aquatic invasive species. Berggren urges you to stay alert.
"When you leave the water, it is a law that you clean, drain and dry on that because your boat and your trailer goes in the water, aquatic hitchhikers stay onto that," Berggren said.
It's an all-hands-on-deck effort to stay vigilant on and off the water.
Conservation officers will also keep a watchful eye on drivers under the influence. If you choose to drink, take bottled water and have a designated driver. Just like on the road, the legal limit is a .08 BAC.