LAKE MILTON, Ohio (WKBN) — Nicer weather here in the Valley is prompting some people to get the boats out on the dock. However, there are some things to be mindful of before setting sail.
It may be getting warmer on land, but that doesn’t mean it is in the water.
“This past weekend — on Saturday when we were out — the water temperature was about 55 degrees at Lake Milton. That’s still pretty cold,” said ODNR Parks and Watercraft Officer Deidre May.
May said an accident in cold waters makes hypothermia set in faster.
“A lot of people don’t think about that when they have an 80-degree day coming up,” said May.
ODNR reported 13 boating incidents last year in Ohio. Four were due to alcohol and drugs or operator inattention.
Staying aware is key out on the water.
“Watch other boats in the area and out on the water. You want to keep a lookout for them just in case they’re not paying attention as well so that you can react in a safe manner,” said May.
Knowing your vessel is also important. Bigger, powered vessels should pass smaller, paddle boats. Smaller vessels are supposed to stay on their course.
You’ll also need your operator’s license on the water. This is required for anyone born after January 1, 1982.
“If you don’t have one and you’re of the age of requirement, you could be cited for it. Same as a driver’s license. Wouldn’t want you on the roads if you don’t have your proper driver’s license,” said May.
If you want an operator’s license, ODNR has free courses to obtain one. They teach people how to safely operate vessels on the water.