By Tony Buthman

Tis the season for water activities. Folks start getting their boats tuned up for the summer season and fishermen start getting their tackle prepared for enjoyable days on or near the water. Swimmers look forward to cooling off at their favorite swimming hole.
Local Law Enforcement and Rescue organizations begin stepping up training and prepping equipment for the more active times when more folks take to water activities. They maintain readiness year-round but increase their activities as larger numbers take to the water. It is very important to remember these officials out in the field are not there to cause you grief they are doing their jobs to save you grief by lowering the chances of accidents or incidents that could possibly cause you hours or a lifetime of grief because of unsafe practices.
Idaho has many safety programs and rules in effect to help ensure that everyone returns home safely. It is important for people to learn the rules and take some of the various training programs, some are free and others have very minimal costs associated with them. We are fortunate that few if any courses are required, however some of our neighboring states require specific training to enjoy these activities. As with any endeavor the more knowledge we have the safer things are and ultimately the more enjoyment we get from activities.
Many of the same rules apply to boating activities as they do for motorized vehicle use. Alcohol and Drugs are many times a deciding factor in accidents on the water. Reckless operation such as following too closely not yielding the right of way and operation in a manner that endangers others should never happen.
Safety should be everyone’s first consideration when enjoying these activities. Personal floatation devices (PFD’S) are required for every person on a recreational vessel and anyone under 14 has to be wearing it while underway. Reminder every person onboard has to have a PFD that fits them and needs to be in good working order. Also any vessel except kayaks and canoes over 16 ft. in length is required to have a Type IV throw flotation device onboard, these are also a good idea for shore as well. If someone is noticed in distress it would sure be handy to toss to them. It is always good practice for individuals who may not have quality swimming skills to wear a PFD when near water.
There are some rules pertaining to float tubes if on a lake greater than 200 surface acres you are required to use a PFD, also in moving water such as a river or stream you are to wear a PFD, if in a Fly-fishing pontoon boat you are always required to wear a PFD.
Have a safe and enjoyable time with your water activities.