Water Enthusiasts make splash

People who looked to beat the heat by playing on the water, need to know the rules of the waterway they plan to launch in to assure a safe outing.

BLACKFOOT – Sunny days, warmer temperatures, and cool water brought many out to spend the Fourth of July holiday at Jensen's Grove. Kids enjoying the sectioned-off swimming area splashed, laughed, and swam while the bigger toys made waves for them to bob through. But not all was fun and games on Thursday, because people on the water ignored posted signs expressing that the proper route of travel is counter-clockwise.

When it comes to boating safety, Idaho follows a strict code of rules and regulations to help prevent any unnecessary injury or damage to the vessel.

According to the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, "Boat speed limits: The number one problem that boaters forget." In the state of Idaho, a no wake zone's maximum speed limit is five miles-per-hour (MPH). There is one caveat to the rule: when pulling a skier off of a dock or returning the skier close to it, a boat may make wake in the no wake zone. However, the boat operator should make every effort to not spend extra time making waves in the no wake zone.

Idaho does not require boat operators to take a training course, but rather expects that any driver must be capable and responsible for their vessel. Benewah, Bonner, and Kootenai counties are exceptions of the rule; they require the operators to be of specific age.

When taking the time to enjoy Jensen's Grove on a warm day, remember that there is always the possibility of swimmer's itch. Swimmer's itch, more formally known as cercarial dermatitis, occurs when the body has an allergic reaction to parasites that burrow through the skin, according to the Mayo Clinic. It normally occurs in fresh, warm water, but may also be contracted in salt water. It enters the waters through a host, such as geese, ducks, seagulls, beavers, and muskrats.

To prevent swimmer's itch, some simple actions can be taken. First, choose the swimming areas carefully. "Avoid swimming or wading in marshy ares where snails are commonly found," according to the Mayo Clinic.

Second, avoiding the warmer waters near the shoreline can lessen the chance of contracting swimmer's itch. Deeper, cooler water lowers the risk of contraction.

Finally, use waterproof sunscreen and dry off when getting out of the water. Take a shower after being in the water as well.

Summer waterways are there for all to enjoy, and should be a family outing that leads to many memories. Making plans, taking preventative measures, and following established rules may make all the difference this summer.

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