May 26, 2021
RE: Do Safe Things - Boat Safety
The Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office sends a reminder to make boat safety a priority before you head to the water. Deputies have already responded to several waterways incidents this spring. This time of year, water in the Snake River, Lakes, and Reservoirs is very cold and changing constantly from seasonal runoff and the increase of agricultural activity. The result is very low visibility, floating debris and hidden hazards just under the water surface. Additionally, ending up in the water at its current temperature results in the very quick onset of Hypothermia and a life threatening short window of opportunity to self-rescue.
Our Deputies have witnessed the results of safety planning that limited injuries and saved lives as a result, especially when conditions are constantly change in the early part of the year. We are fortunate to have a well equipped team of Back Country Deputies, Dive Team, and Search and Rescue Volunteers that can respond to emergencies on the water, but that does not take away from the importance of having the proper equipment, life jackets, and experience before any water recreation. Bonneville County Sheriff’s Deputies frequently inspect boats for safety equipment and registrations, and enforce state code and county ordinance violations pertaining to the use of its waterways.
In Idaho, anyone 14 years of age or younger aboard a watercraft 19 feet or less are required to wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket when the vessel is underway or under power. This includes paddle craft, such as canoes, kayaks, and rafts. Idaho law also requires at least one properly fitted and Coast Guard approved life jacket be on board and readily available for each person on a boat. Some boats and personal water craft are required to carry additional buoys or life preservers, fire extinguishers, and other equipment depending on the type and size of the vessel.
The Idaho State Parks and Recreation website contains a vast amount of information on boating safety, registration requirements, and safety equipment required for any type of water craft. The site also carries information about training, water conditions, monitoring for evasive species, and educational events that promote safe use and practices in Idaho’s waterways. Our Deputies highly recommend everyone who plans to be on the water to check out the website by going to www.boatidaho.gov before you head out to enjoy the outdoors. It’s very easy to use and also contains links and information about Idaho State Parks, campsites, trails, safety training, and outdoor areas to enjoy throughout the entire year.
As you make plans for the holiday weekend and the rest of this summer, take the time to make sure you are properly registered and have the required safety equipment before you go. Plan for safety, changes in weather, and always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return. Always be respectful of private property and public lands, as well as those using it next to you. Doing these safe things and taking a moment to plan ahead ensures your enjoyment of what the back country areas of Bonneville County has to offer.