Sheriff's office issues safety advisory

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Elmore County Sheriff's Department issued an advisory on Thursday reminding people to follow state laws if they choose to take stand-up paddleboards on waterways within Idaho.

The sheriff's department advisory comes after the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation issued a similar reminder regarding these stand-up paddleboards, whose popularity has exploded among users across the state in recent years. Noted as fun and easy-to, they are still required to follow equipment rules and licensing requirements like other water vessels, the state parks and recreation agency started.

In 2008, the U.S. Coast Guard determined that stand-up paddleboards are considered to be a vessel when used outside a swimming, surfing or bathing area, making them subject to applicable regulations. These vessels need a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket on board and a sound producing device such as a whistle, according to Dave Dahms, state boating law administrator.

"In addition, all SUPs, regardless of size and construction, must display the Idaho Invasive Species Sticker," Dahms said.

Dahms added that SUP users are subject to Idaho's life jacket law for kids, which requires all those ages 14 and under to wear a life jacket on a vessel that's less than 19 feet in length when underway.

Boaters that don't have safety equipment can face fines from county marine deputies, the sheriff's department reported. In addition, failure to display the Idaho Invasive Species Sticker could result in additional fines.

Stand-up paddleboard users are also subject to arrest for being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

According to Dahms, the state has one documented stand-up paddleboard fatality. Additional fatalities were on the rise across the country, including four fatalities during three separate incidents the weekend of June 10 to 12.

The sheriff's office and the state parks and recreation department encourage all stand-up paddleboards enthusiasts to wear life jackets while on the water to ensure personal safety. While air temperatures may be in the 80s or 90s, water temperatures are still in the 50s and 60s in many water bodies across the state, making cold water a danger to everyone, officials emphasized.

Stand-up paddleboarders, as well as other boaters, can become quickly incapacitated when entering cold water and maybe not able to re-board without a life jacket, the sheriff's department reported.

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