High waters mean boaters need to be extra careful - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

High waters mean boaters need to be extra careful

LAKE WAPPAPELLO, MO (KFVS) - Many Heartland residents will take to the water this weekend since Memorial Day Weekend typically marks the start of the boating season.

But because of all the rain, park rangers say everyone will want to be extra careful.

According to Lake Wappapello Park Ranger John Daves, water levels have gone down some but they are still higher than usual.

In some areas, there is more than five feet of water they don't typically have.

Daves said that is why People's Creek Beach will remain closed for the weekend.

With water levels higher, Daves said things like trees and other obstructions won't be visible, which pose as a real danger.

There will also be a lot of people on the water, and that is why he said safety needs to be top of mind this weekend.

"We want you to be safe in and around the water," Daves said.

He said life jackets are one of the most important things to have this weekend.

"I can't stress enough that you make sure you keep an eye on your young people," Daves said. "Lean how to swim and lean how to swim well and wear your life jacket, that's really the big keys to water safety."

Daves offers the following tips before you head out this weekend:

  • By law in Missouri, every person on a boar will need a life jacket in their possession.
  • Make sure your boat is equipped with a working fire extinguisher.
  • Start your boat before you get down to the water to make sure it is in working condition.
In Illinois, there are also a handful of new laws boaters will have to comply with.

If you are caught boating under the influence in Illinois, consequences will be as strict as those penalties for operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol.

Also in Illinois, you must take and pass a boating safety course before you can operate a motorboat with an engine over 10 horsepower. This law only applies to those who were born after Jan. 1, 1998.

Boaters in Illinois that are towing a person, such as a tuber or water skier, must also display a bright orange flag measuring not less than 12 inches per side.

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