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Iowa DNR, Army Corps of Engineers give water safety tips for holiday weekend

When heading out on the water, be sure to have a life jacket handy and watch your speed when boating.

JOHNSTON, Iowa — The Fourth of July weekend means food, fun, fireworks and for some, time spent on the water. 

However, multiple law enforcement agencies are making a big push for people to remain safe on the water.

"We're going to be on the water more than anyone really," Bryce Andresen, a water patrol officer with Iowa Department of Natural Resource, said. "We're going to be making a big presence here."

The DNR expects waterways like Saylorville Lake to be packed with hundreds of boats this weekend.

To make sure things remain safe, Andresen noted it's a good idea for people driving the boats to stay away from alcohol. 

"The moment you start drinking and driving your judgment is impaired, your reaction time is impaired," he said. "Boats can't stop on a dime, they don't have breaks."

Speed while boating is also a big factor.

"For us, the biggest violation we happen to see out here is speed and distance is a big one," Andresen said. "With that, I mean, if a vessel is going over five miles per hour and the other vessel is going over five miles per hour, you have to be at least 50 feet apart from each other."

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Greg Hand, a park ranger with the Army Corps of Engineers, said one of the most important things people need to remember this weekend is to wear a life jacket while the boat is moving.

But they also need to be easily accessible.

"Life jackets aren't going to do their job if they're down in a compartment or vessel," Hand said. "So we want people to keep them on and actively wear them."

Anyone 12 and under is required to wear a lifejacket while a boat is underway.

The Iowa DNR wants everyone to remain vigilant of others and follow the rules so there aren't any accidents or fines.

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