Before you Go... Paddling Safe on the Maquoketa River
• Wear It! Life jackets only work if you are wearing them. When selecting a life jacket make sure it fits properly, you are using it for its recommended use and it is U.S. Coast Guard approved.
• Know Before You Go! Know the waters you plan to float and check the weather. Let others know about your float trip by leaving behind a float plan.
• Pay Attention! It's important to be aware of your surroundings, especially if you encounter powerboats. STAY ALERT and be ready to move out of danger. STAY VISIBLE because others may not see you.
• Never Boat Under the Influence! While paddling can be easy, it's no excuse to paddle under the influence. Paddling a kayak or canoe requires a responsible, safe, and aware operator. Don't blur that operation with drugs and alcohol.
• Plan to get Wet! Expect the unexpected and know what to do if you find yourself IN the water. Stay calm and with the boat. If you fall out into the current, keep your feet on the surface and swim to shore.
• Know the Hazards! Paddling hazards include rocks, strainers, low-head dams, heavy current, lightning, and other bad weather. Strainers can be anything that blocks passage but lets water filter through. Low-head dams are tough to see from
upstream and very difficult to escape. Both strainers and low-head dams are regarded as "drowning machine."These hazards are dangerous - avoid them, portage around them, and ALWAYS SCOUT AHEAD!
• Keep It Stable! Leaning shoulders outside the edge of the boat can lead to a capsize. Keep your weight low and balanced over the centerline of the boat