During National Safe Boating Week, May 20-26, Nebraska Game and Parks reminds boaters to brush up on safety rules in preparation for peak boating season.

Follow these 10 tips reduce the risk of incidents and help ensure a safe and enjoyable day on the water.

Take a boater safety course — Though it’s only a legal requirement for those born after Dec. 31, 1985, consider completing the Nebraska boating safety course to learn the top things you need to know about navigating Nebraska waters, what to do in an emergency and more. Find an in-person or online class at OutdoorNebraska.gov; search for “boater education.”

Check equipment — Before you launch, ensure your boat or kayak is in good running condition and all essential equipment is present, including a life jacket for every person on board. Paddlers of kayaks or canoes also should physically inspect their planned take-out point to make sure it is accessible.

Tell someone your plans — Before leaving home, let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. Consider carrying a cellphone in a waterproof pouch, as well, in case an emergency occurs.

Wear a life jacket — Make your life jacket a statement piece and wear it, as it does no good stowed away if an emergency occurs. Children under age 13, those using personal watercraft and those being towed on skis or similar device must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device; it’s required by the law.

Be wary of surroundings — According to the National Safe Boating Council, nearly a quarter of all reported boating accidents in 2021 were caused by operator inattention or improper look-out. Pay attention to other boats, personal watercraft, swimmers, stumps and other hazards. Speeds in excess of 5 mph are prohibited if within 30 yards of any other vessel, swimming area or dock. If padding a kayak or canoe, be aware of possible debris below the surface or under bridges.

Have all required safety equipment — Life jackets, throw cushions, fire extinguishers and bailing devices are required on most boats. An engine-cut-off device or switch also is a good idea.

Avoid alcohol — Nearly one-third of all recreational boating fatalities occur when someone is Boating Under the Influence, a criminal violation enforced in Nebraska. Always designate a sober driver.

Watch the weather — Storms can pop up quickly in Nebraska. Check the weather in advance and monitor it during the day, if necessary.

Avoid hypothermia — Even though temperatures are rising, the water still can be cold. Hypothermia is caused by exposure to cold weather or water. Take caution to prevent hypothermia.

Keep it legal — Make sure you’ve registered your boat and, if a nonresident, purchased an Aquatic Invasive Species stamp at OutdoorNebraska.gov. Also remember anyone operating a motorboat or personal watercraft in Nebraska must be at least 14 years of age. Learn more about Nebraska’s boating regulations at OutdoorNebraska.gov; search “Go boating.”

National Safe Boating Week is the annual kick-off of the Safe Boating Campaign, a global awareness effort that encourages boaters to make the most of their boating adventure by being responsible.

Catch these Game and Parks education events in June

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission educators have scheduled interesting and engaging events for the curious in June. Here are some opportunities:

Nebraska Nature Nerd Trivia Night is June 13 in Omaha

Grab your fellow nature nerds and join the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission as it hosts Nebraska Nature Nerd Trivia Night at 7 p.m. June 13 at the Bull Moose in Omaha.

Nature is cool, so there is no shortage of topics questions could cover. Get your teams of no more than five players and be ready to compete for prizes. Registration is not required.

These events are for adults only and are free to attend with a purchase from the Bull Moose, 3548 Center St.

For more information and or questions, email [email protected].

‘Science of’ virtual webinar series returns in June

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s popular “Science of” virtual webinar series returns in June.

Every Thursday at 3 p.m. Central time, Game and Parks educators will discuss some of the science behind common things regarding nature and animals. The topic on June 15 will be prehistoric creatures.

The hourlong webinars are free, but separate registration is required for each. See the calendar event entries at Calendar.OutdoorNebraska.gov for registration links.

The webinar schedule of topics: June 15 – Prehistoric creatures; June 22 – Pollinators; June 29 – Aquatic plants.

The webinars will be recorded and posted to the Nebraska Game and Parks YouTube Education Channel.

Contact [email protected] for more information. Check out the events on Game and Parks’ Facebook page and the Nebraska Project WILD Facebook page.

Little Saplings program presents Dandelions

Adults looking to explore the outdoors with their young children are invited to Little Saplings, a monthly early childhood nature discovery program at Schramm Education Center near Gretna.

The 2023 series continues June 7 with the theme Dandelions at 9 a.m. It is designed for children ages 2-5 and their adult caregiver. The cost is $4 per child and $5 per adult per program and includes admission to the Education Center after the program.

See the calendar event entry at Calendar.OutdoorNebraska.gov for more information.

Homeschool Hike set for June 21-22 at Schramm Park SRA UPDATED

Homeschool families are invited to join an outdoor educator on a guided hike to learn about pollinators at Schramm Park State Recreation Area near Gretna during the Homeschool Hikes program at 9 a.m. June 21 and 2 p.m. June 22.

Homeschool Hikes is a monthly nature exploration program hosted by the Schramm Education Center geared toward homeschool families.

Participants are encouraged to RSVP in advance through the event listing at Calendar.OutdoorNebraska.gov. Cost is $4 per child and $5 per adult per program. This includes admission to the Schramm Education Center after the program. Schramm Family Pass members participate free.

This program is recommended for ages 5 and up. Participants should dress in season-appropriate layers and wear closed-toed shoes that can get dirty. Hats and water bottles are recommended.

Chadron State Park hosting Celebrate Wildflower Week

Celebrate Wildflower Week with the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum on June 8 at Chadron State Park.

A Wildflower Plant Talk begins at 6:30 p.m. Mountain time at the Central Group Complex Meeting Room, featuring Horticulture Specialist Lucinda Mays and NSA Horticulture Program Coordinator Bob Henrickson.

At 7:30 p.m., there will be a Sunset Wildflower Hike, meeting at the Central Group Complex before traveling to the Pinecone Shelter for the hour hike.

Wildflower Outing at Wildcat Hills on June 9

Celebrate Nebraska Wildflower week with a Wildflower Outing at the Wildcat Hills at 7 p.m. June 9.

Uncover many of the flowers in bloom at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area and discover key characteristics for identifying. Bring water and hiking shoes for this mile-long hike over uneven terrain. The hike meets at the Nature Center.

Pollinator Party hosted by Schramm Education Center

To celebrate Nebraska Pollinator Week, the Schramm Education Center will host a Pollinator Party on June 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

See live honeybees, bumblebees, and other live insects at this family event. Help survey the Schramm prairie for insects and plants in a prairie bioblitz. There will be crafts, games, a plant sale, food and much more.

Participation in the event is free, but regular admission costs will apply for any visitors wishing to explore the Education Center. A state park vehicle permit is not required in the Schramm Education Center parking lot.

See the calendar event entry at Calendar.OutdoorNebraska.gov for more information. Direct questions to Outdoor Education Specialist Jen Ruyle at 402-332-5022 or [email protected].

Ash Hollow SHP Bioblitz set for June 17

Enjoy learning from Nebraska biologists while finding and identifying as many species of plants and animals as possible at the Ash Hollow State Historical Park Bioblitz on June 17.

All necessary materials will be provided for the sessions, which run from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Dress for the weather. Lunch and dinner will not be provided.

See the calendar event entry at Calendar.OutdoorNebraska.gov for a schedule. For more information, email [email protected].

Mahoney SP to host star gazing June 23

The Nebraska Star Party group will sponsor a Star Gazing Party for the public at dusk June 23 at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park.

Powerful telescopes will be set up near the park’s golf shack for a glimpse of the night sky. Bring camp chairs or blankets. This event is free and viewing equipment will be provided. Rain dates are the next day or following Saturday.

Pre-party naturalist programs, with astronomy-related activities, will be held at the picnic area in front of Owen Marina from 3-4:30 p.m.

Two Rivers SRA nature programs June 17

Two Rivers State Recreation Area will host nature programs 10 a.m.-noon and 12:30-2 p.m. June 17.

Join naturalists at the picnic shelter just north of lakeside campground. Discover tracks, pelts, skulls and more things to explore. Meet a live animal and learn about some of favorite Nebraska species that can be found at the SRA.

Mud Pie Mornings set for Schramm

Prepare to get dirty for Mud Pie Mornings at Schramm Park State Recreation Area on June 2 and 29.

Meet at 9 a.m. by the Schramm Education Center side entrance, then go on an ingredient-seeking hike.  Next, naturalists and participants will squish through a mud-pie recipe, all while learning about soil composition.

Summer programs scheduled at Venture Parks

Venture Park programs for the public are scheduled at Schramm Park State Recreation Area, Platte River SP, Eugene T. Mahoney SP and Louisville SRA from June 1-Aug. 15.

Topics include reptiles, wildflowers, mammals, birding and more. Youth must be accompanied by an adult.

For more information, contact Kelly Ekue at [email protected] or 402-332-5022.

Schramm Park SRA to host Nature Journaling

Learn nature journaling at 9 a.m. June 17 at Schramm Park State Recreation Area.

Join Nebraska Master Naturalist, writer and educator Jeff Lacey on a hike designed to help naturalists of all ages and ability levels write and sketch in or about the forest in a nature journal.

Meet at the park shelter with a green roof by the first pond as you enter the park. Resources will be provided.

June packed with fun park events for the family

Spend some time this summer in Nebraska’s state parks. During June, a variety of events are planned for those for all ages and interests.

Don’t forget to purchase a vehicle park entry permit to enter the state parks. Get one at OutdoorNebraska.gov or at state park entrances.

Lewis and Clark hosting Dueling Pianos at the Lake

Tickets now are on sale for Midwest Dueling Pianos at the Lake, set for June 3 at Lewis and Clark State Recreation area near Crofton.

Dueling Pianos, slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. at Weigand Marina, is a mix of music and comedy. Uncle Jarrols and Crofton Haymarket will serve food, with CJ’s at the Lake providing a cash bar.

Space is limited, so purchase tickets early. Cost is $20 per person or $160 for a table of eight. Purchase tickets at the Lewis and Clark park office or by phone at 402-388-4169.

Rock Creek Trail Days scheduled for June 3-4

Explore a place where road ranches served pioneers along the Oregon-California Trail, Pony Express riders carried mail across the West, and Wild Bill Hickok began a legendary career as a gunfighter. Rock Creek Trail Days is set for June 3-4 at Rock Creek Station State Historical Park near Fairbury.

The visitor center will be open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. each day. A buffalo stew cookout and guest speaker are scheduled for June 3.

For more information, see the calendar entry at Calendar.OutdoorNebraska.gov.

Enders Outdoor Extravaganza set for June 10

Come to Enders Reservoir State Recreation Area on June 10 and enjoy a full day of activities for all ages with the Enders Outdoor Extravaganza.

Activities will include a 5K run, craft show, working truck show, tractor show, Dutch oven cooking, BBQ smoke-off, outdoor games, kayaking, petting zoo, bounce house and live music.

For more information on the day’s schedule of events, see the calendar entry at Calendar.OutdoorNebraska.gov.

Grand opening for Fort Atkinson’s renovated visitor center June 3

See the recent renovations at the Harold W. Anderson Visitor Center Grand Opening at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park on June 3.

The day’s festivities, which will last from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will include a ribbon cutting, Living History, guided tours of the exhibits, and much more.

Admission to the visitor center is $4 for ages 13 and over, $1 for ages 3-12, and free for ages 2 and under.

Fort Atkinson, the first military post west of the Missouri River, is located seven blocks east of U.S. Highway 75 near Fort Calhoun.

Mystery at the Mansion set for June 2-3

Come to Arbor Lodge State Historical Park on June 2-3 for two evenings of fun with Mystery at the Manson. June 2 will feature Murder at Deadwood Saloon and June 3 will be Murder at the Hatters Ball. These old-fashioned whodunits will take place at Arbor Lodge Mansion.

Solve clues, look for evidence and break the case while mingling. Participants will receive a character to portray as they arrive at Arbor Lodge Mansion.

Cost is $30 per person. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Visit the event listing at Calendar.OutdoorNebraska.gov to buy tickets or for information on adding dinner or lodging.

Pony Express re-ride exchange at Rock Creek Station SHP

Come to Rock Creek Station State Historical Park on June 16 for the 2023 Pony Express Re-Ride Exchange.

Each June, the National Pony Express Association recreates the Pony Express in a commemorative re-ride. Letters are carried in a mochila over the original trail stretching from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California. The 1,966-mile, eight-state event is conducted 24 hours a day over a 10-day period until complete.

On June 16, Rock Creek Riders will carry the mochila eastbound through Jefferson County from about 5 p.m. to the Nebraska-Kansas line by 10 p.m. An exchange will take place on Rock Creek Station’s East Ranch at approximately 8:15 p.m.

For more information, see the calendar entry at Calendar.OutdoorNebraska.gov.

Merritt Reservoir to host Magnificent Moths, Spectacular Stars

Come to Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area for the Magnificent Moths, Spectacular Stars dark skies program June 24.

For three hours beginning at 9 p.m., discover the fantastic world of wonderful nighttime insects while celebrating Merritt Reservoir’s designation as an International Dark Sky Park.

Using night lighting equipment, outdoor enthusiasts will investigate the relationship between dark skies and wildlife.

Help with Standing Bear Lake cleanup June 3

A cleanup day at Standing Bear Lake is scheduled for June 3. The Omaha lake has been drained for an Aquatic Habitat and Boating Access project, creating an opportunity to remove trash from the lake bed.

The Nebraska Game and Park Commission, the City of Omaha, Omaha Parks Foundation, Greater Omaha Trail Runners, and the Omaha Running Club invite volunteers to help clean up the lake and nearby trail and parking areas from 9 a.m. to noon.

Bring gloves and wear closed-toed shoes or boots and clothing that can get dirty as some of the areas are wet and muddy. Trash bags, grabbers and pails will be provided. Meet at the south boat ramp parking lot.

Visit the calendar event listing at Calendar.OutdoorNebraska.gov to register and more information.

Scheels 3D Archery Tournament is June 3-4

The public is invited to compete in a 3D archery tournament June 3-4 at Ponca State Park hosted by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and sponsored by Scheels.

Each round of shooting will include 60 targets. There will be prizes and giveaways.

For more information, contact the Sioux City Scheels Archery Shop at 712-252-1551.

Bob Dakota Fire Prevention Fund Day is June 17

Fremont Lakes State Recreation Area will host the Bob Dakota Fire Prevention Fund Day on June 17.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., visit with local rural fire departments, law enforcement, Omaha Public Power District, and other safety entities to learn about fire safety awareness and firefighter and law enforcement job duties.

For the kids, there will be fire truck rides, free food, face painting, seat belt simulator, and much more.

Visit the calendar event listing at Calendar.OutdoorNebraska.gov for information.

Ponca SP to host Father’s Day Fish Fry

Ponca State Park will host at Father’s Day Fish Fry on June 18.

From 11 a.m.-1 p.m., dads can be treated to a made-from-scratch fish fry, with Dutch oven cobbler for dessert.

Reservations are required. Call 402-755-2284.

Make plans for a fun camping getaway

With Memorial Day weekend and summer coming up, campers should think ahead to find their perfect site.

While many popular reservation-only spots already have been booked, many more sites are available first-come, first-served at state parks across Nebraska. Find a park, plan a trip or make a reservation at OutdoorNebraska.gov. There you also can use the ”Find a Park” tool to discover parks with amenities or activities that match your interests.

Once you’ve popped your tent or parked your recreation vehicle, follow these Nebraska Game and Parks reminders to keep camping fun and safe this summer:

  • Arrive early. Consider arriving early in the week before Memorial Day weekend to claim a first-come, first-served site that meets your needs.
  • Be patient. Memorial Day weekend is a historically busy one in state parks. Practice patience and understanding with fellow campers and park staff.
  • Wear life jackets when boating or swimming and only swim in designated beach areas.
  • Pack a fishing pole! Fishing is fun for all ages. Youth ages 16 and under don’t need a permit to fish. Adults can buy a one-day or annual fishing permit online.
  • Practice campfire safety. Guests should call park areas before arrival to determine whether a burn ban is in effect. Where campfires are allowed, use designated fire rings, never leave a fire unattended, keep water nearby, and extinguish completely before leaving. 
  • Do not bring firewood with you. Transporting firewood can spread diseases and harmful insects such as the emerald ash borer. Buy local firewood and leave any unused firewood at the campsite for others.
  • Try to arrive at your campsite well before dark. This gives you time to set up camp while it’s still light out. And when possible, don’t pack up and leave too early in the morning.
  • Don’t cut through occupied campsites; stay on paths or roadways and give all your camping neighbors some privacy.
  • Observe quiet hours, which in many campgrounds are 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. every day.
  • Check the weather forecast and stay aware of changing conditions. Many parks have restrooms that double as tornado shelters, but don’t be afraid to pack up to avoid a storm.

Get hooked on crappies this spring

By Daryl Bauer

There is no doubt the fish species that can send the largest number of anglers to the banks during the spring outbreak of fishing fever is crappies.

Everyone loves to sit on a shoreline on a warm afternoon and experience a good crappie bite. What can an angler do to maximize the number of spring days catching crappies?

Crappies love warm areas; they also love bays, coves, corners and similar areas that are protected from the wind, especially cold north and northwest winds. Find cover in those warming areas — emergent vegetation, stalks of last summer’s submerged vegetation, brush piles, fallen trees or beaver lodges — and you likely will find some spring crappies. Rocks and rocky habitats also hold fish, but, on many Nebraska reservoirs, those hold more crappies later in the spring after the water has warmed more.

Where did they go?

Fish for crappies on a beautiful spring afternoon and everything can be grand. Go back the next day when the wind is blowing and you will be lucky to dry off one crappie. In some cases, those crappies may be in the same spot, just tucked deeper into cover, but it is more likely they went toward deeper water.

Depending on where they started, how shallow they were, and the severity of the weather change, crappie may not have moved far. Or they may have moved hundreds of yards back to the relative stability of deeper water.

If those crappies moved out of the shallows with the weather change, they likely will not be as active or as easy to catch. Vertical presentations probably will be the best way to catch a few fish.

As spring progresses, the water warms and the weather stabilizes, the wild shifts in crappie location and feeding attitude will lessen. Pick your days and fish when the crappies are most likely to be shallow and catchable or follow the movements and catch fish even when the weather changes.

Keep it simple

Presentations for spring crappies should be relatively simple.

Crappies will chase prey, and at times, they can be quite aggressive. Much of the time, however, they are a lot more laid back. Even though their intent is just as deadly as a muskellunge or flathead catfish, their feeding strategy is completely different. Remember that and you will catch more crappies at all times of year.

Slow and steady, nothing fancy, nothing too aggressive usually is best for crappies, especially in the cold water of early spring. Put a bait in their vicinity, keep it there and give them a chance to move in and eat it.

Where allowed, nothing is simpler than a bobber, split shot, light wire hook, and a small, lively minnow. Dabble that in front of a crappie most anytime and they will eat; that is predator/prey dynamics at its simplest and rawest.

I like light wire hooks because they keep minnows lively. Even with 8-pound test line, you usually can straighten the hook when you get snagged in the woody cover you likely will be fishing. Hook the minnows through the back, just under the dorsal fin.

Use bobbers only as large as needed to suspend the bait. Bobbers that are too big inhibit bite detection and result in less fish caught.

Crappie jigs are a popular option. A selection of 1/64- to 1/8-ounce jig heads and a variety of plastic bodies will give you the tools you need and an infinite variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Other options include tube bodies, imitation minnows, marabou jigs and wax worms.

Jigs are meant to be cast and retrieved but remember slow and steady is usually best for crappies, especially in the spring. Bobbers are not just for fishing live bait. Attach a bobber on your line at the depth you want to fish and you can fish a jig slower.

The spawn

The spring crappie bite can be good weeks before the fish are thinking about nesting and spawning. That means when the fish are shallow, they may be in some of the same areas over a couple of months. As they get closer to spawning, the crappies, especially males, will become darker colored. Expect the bite to slow as the fish get closer to spawning. Males will select small territories, then build and defend their nests, which often are located next to shallow water cover objects.

When spawning behavior starts, males stay close to their nests and will not move far to take baits. Fish slowly and put baits right on the crappies to get them to bite during the spawn. Females may stage close by until they are ready to move onto a nest and deposit eggs; they also tend to have something other than feeding on their mind during the spawn.

Once the spawn is over, crappies tend to disperse and head toward more open waters. Depending on the water body, available habitat, and prey, they may venture to emerging beds of aquatic vegetation, wander in the middle of the lake, or utilize some other type of deeper-water habitat.

Some crappies will remain in shallow cover year-round, but most crappies become more difficult to catch as they disperse and roam open water feeding on abundant prey during summer.

Crappies still can be caught during the summer, but the fishing usually is not as easy as it was during those warm, spring days when everyone wants to go crappie fishing.

Daryl Bauer is the fisheries outreach program manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Fishing etiquette for every type of angler

A great day fishing is as much about catching what you’re after as it is about the experience you had while away from home. But to keep your fishing trip memorable for only the best reasons, follow Nebraska Game and Parks’ rules of fishing etiquette.

Etiquette for every angler

Remember the Golden Rule

It’s easy to get tunnel vision, especially in pursuit of a big catch, but always treat others how you’d wish to be treated. Staying considerate helps others stay considerate, too.


When in doubt, ask. Not sure whether someone is working a shoreline north to south? Or if he or she thinks you’re too close? A simple question — “Mind if we fish here?” — can help avoid conflict.

Share the water

Don’t hog one spot or stretch of water all day and don’t get too close to other anglers — either on shore or on the water. Public waters are meant for everyone to use, so be reasonable about sharing the space. At the same time, remember some people just want to swim, kayak, ski, or leisure boat, and have the same rights to the public waters as you.

Respect the fish

Not intending to eat the fish you catch? Work hard to ensure the fish stays alive by taking care of your catch. Limit time out of water, remove hooks quickly or while keeping it in water, and do your best to prevent damaging the fish’s protective slime coat.

Leave no trace

Did you pack it in? Then pack it out, too. Your spent line, broken lures, hooks, Styrofoam bait containers, snack wrappers and cans have no business being left on shore or in the water. It risks the lives of wildlife, is bad for the environment and ruins other’s experiences in nature. Instead, leave the place better than you found it.

Follow the law          

In addition to purchasing your fishing permit, know what type, how many and what size fish you can keep at water bodies across the state. Following the law helps sustain the state’s fisheries resources for the future. Find current rules in the 2023 Fishing Guide at OutdoorNebraska.gov.

For the shore or pier angler

When fishing from shore or pier, it can get tight. Be aware of where you are, where your hook is and the direction of your cast. Never cast over or under someone else’s line. If you’re unsure of your skill, move away from the crowd so you can build your casting skills safely.

For the boat angler

While it can be tempting to troll where you see others having success, don’t. Give anglers ample room. Don’t cut them off or intersect their path when you see them working a shoreline or honey hole, either. Respect those who arrived before you to snag a productive spot.

For the bow fisher

When your adrenaline is coursing at spotting a big one, it can be easy to overshoot — and end up hitting a dock or a boat. Always look beyond what you’re aiming to hit. When in doubt, don’t shoot and wait for the next safe opportunity. Being aware of your surroundings and practicing caution is extremely important when archery fishing. 

Keep swim safety top of mind

As summer season kicks off and water-based recreation floats to the top of the to-do list, keep these Nebraska Game and Parks safety reminders top of mind:

Never swim alone — Always swim with a buddy, no matter your age, and remember children near or in water should always be accompanied by an adult.

Pay attention — Avoid distractions and focus on those you are swimming with and the water; where possible, designate a water watcher. Drowning is the leading cause of death for children, according to the American Red Cross, and drownings can happen in seconds, as well as in shallow waters. Staying watchful — even of strong swimmers — is encouraged and the best way to respond quickly should an accident occur.

Wear a life jacket – Children especially should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket, while swimming or wading in water, including swim areas at Nebraska state parks. Floats such as pool noodles, rafts, donuts and kick boards, are not intended to serve as life-saving devises; properly worn life jackets are.

In Nebraska, children under age 13 and anybody on a personal watercraft are required by law to wear a Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device. People being towed by a boat on skis, a tube, or other similar device, also must wear a life jacket. Every vessel, except sailboards, must carry a flotation device for each person on board.

Make sure the life jacket fits — Check the jacket for both weight and size limits. Life jackets should be snug and should not pop up around the ears.

Watch for waves, currents, drop-offs and underwater objects — Lakes, rivers and streams often have murky water, potentially hiding underwater hazards such as logs, currents or changes in water depth. Be prepared for the unexpected.

Avoid alcohol — Avoid drinking before or during swimming or boating as alcohol can impair judgment and coordination. Keep in mind, Boating Under the Influence is a criminal violation enforced actively in Nebraska.

Watch the weather – Storms can pop up quickly in Nebraska. Check the weather in advance and monitor it during the day, if necessary. Sudden changes in weather can lead to rocky water and potential lightning strikes, both of which put swimmers and boaters at risk.

Learn what to do in an emergency — Know the signs of downing. Consider getting water safety and CPR trained, and if an emergency occurs, remember to call 911 for help.

Learn swimming basics — It’s never too late to learn foundational swimming skills. By learning how to float and other swimming basics, drownings can be reduced.

Find additional water safety resources at RedCross.org and JoshTheOtter.org.