Boat safety urged as Memorial Day approaches

Posted By: Bayley Bischof Channel 8 Eyewitness News

Memorial Day, or the unofficial start of summer usually brings a lot of people to the lake.

While it’s a relaxing getaway, just like anything, it comes with risks.

Nebraska parks and Recreation’s Herb Angell says the most important thing is to wear a life jacket.

"Life jackets of course, they don’t work if you don’t wear them,” Angell said.

As one young boater at Pawnee Lake says, she wears her life jacket because it’s the law.

And it is, for those under 13 life jackets are required by law. 

When jet-skiing, everyone has to wear their life jacket, no matter your age.

Make sure the jackets fit correctly and are coast guard approved- this information is located inside the jacket, Angell said.

Founder of Josh the Otter water safety foundation Blake Collingsworth said this is incredibly important at lakes.

"Wear your life jackets in the lakes,” Collingsworth said. “The water on lakes are very unforgiving, you can tell it’s not really clear so if you go under it’s hard for people to find you very quickly."

Even when relaxing on the water, it’s important to keep safety in mind, as accidents happen when you least expect them, Collingsworth said.

Boater Kenny Morrow agrees.

"It’s easy to get kinda lax out here and not pay attention to yourself or others that around you,” Morrow said. “When that happens is when you tend to have accidents."

That said, Collingsworth said diligence is necessary. Always be aware of your surroundings, and always keep an eye on the children and families nearby.

Angell also reminds you that drinking and boating don’t mix, and could result in a ticket. Just like driving a car, over .08 is an illegal amount of alcohol to consume while operating a boat.

It’s also necessary to have the following list of safety items on board the boat, Angell said.

Necessary items:

-Life jackets for all on board

-Throwable flotation device

-Fire extinguisher, if you have an inboard engine


-Noise making device (horn or whistle)

-Bailing bucket

Also, there are some lake closures this Memorial Day weekend.

Schilling Wildlife Management Area in Cass County and the west entrance road into Yankee Hill Wildlife Management Area in Lancaster County are closed due to high waters.