Inexperienced Kayakers Cause Headaches For Iowa Rescuers

Jul 30, 2019

Department of Natural Resources experts suggest learning to paddle on a lake before attempting river travel.
Credit Iowa DNR

High water and swift currents on Iowa rivers are prompting Department of Natural Resources officials to warn kayakers and canoers to find other options.

Todd Robertson is an outreach coordinator for river programs. He said the conditions are dangerous, especially for rookies.

"Make sure you know how to control your boat properly, that you’re an efficient paddler," he said. "The best way to do that is to stay off of moving water and start practicing on flat water. Right now with the way rivers are, flat water and lakes are the safest place to be."

Robertson said the DNR has received several reports in the past two weeks of inexperienced paddlers who have had to be rescued. Last Friday, a kayaker needed emergency assistance when he got too close to the Mississippi River dam in Clinton.

Robertson also had guidelines for those who use inner tubes to cool off in the river.  He said inner tubes can be difficult to control.

"You have your hands and you have your feet, you don’t have a paddle," he said. "So you’re basically at the mercy of the current when you’re in a tube. So some of these rivers that are really high in the state right now, you have no business being on anyway. And if you’re on one in a tube, chances are you’re gonna end up in some of that debris."

Robertson said it’s important to always keep an eye on what’s downstream.