If you have ever paddled Pulaski County, Missouri’s Ozark mountain float streams you have experienced the rejuvenation that time in the outdoors, surrounded by Mother Nature’s splendor, brings to the human experience. Passing time in a kayak or canoe with family and friends on the timeless Gasconade & Big Piney rivers indulges a profound connection to Mother Earth and her wild creatures.
Before seeking your Zen this season review these rules, regulations, & safety tips provided by Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Water Patrol Division:
MISSOURI RULES & REGULATIONS
• There is no replacement for common sense and individual responsibility. Be courteous and respectful to everyone you encounter on Missouri’s float streams.
• Watercraft operators are REQUIRED to have an appropriate personal flotation device for EACH person on board.
• Anyone under the age of seven who is on board MUST WEAR a personal flotation device.
• If alcohol is part of your float trip, make smart choices and obey the law. The use of beer bongs or other devices used to consume alcohol on Missouri’s rivers is prohibited.
• Packing snacks and beverages to help you refuel is a good idea. Do NOT bring beverages in glass containers.
• Take your trash with you after your float. Most outfitters will provide a potato sack for storing refuse during your float.
• Missouri State Highway Patrol has a zero-tolerance approach to illegal drug use throughout the state, including on Missouri’s waterways.
• Respect property boundaries during your float trip.
• Any person operating a vessel or watercraft must do so in a careful and prudent manner.
• Protect yourself from the sun.
• Wear water shoes.
• Be familiar with the river and its individual characteristics. Reputable outfitters alert paddlers of potential trouble spots before putting in on the river.
• Learn to recognize hazards such as strainers, dams, boulders, barb wire across the river, etc.
• Know your limits and do not attempt a section of river beyond your skill level. (Pulaski’s rivers typically are appropriate for all skill levels, especially for beginners. Advanced paddlers love the dramatic bluffs & scenery, fishing, and serenity.)
• Do not paddle rivers in flood stage or after a heavy rain. Reputable outfitters will not put people on the water in hazardous conditions.
• IF you capsize, hold onto your kayak or canoe and move immediately to the upstream side. Float on your back, feet together and pointed downstream. Gradually work your way to the shore.
• Carry dry clothing and a first aid kit in a secure, watertight container.
• Tie all your gear into the boat but NEVER lash children or pets to the craft.
• Stay sober and avoid being “too”- too tired, too drunk, too much sun, too far from safety, too much strenuous activity.
• Learn basic water rescue techniques and remember the adage of “Reach-Throw-Row-Go for Help” if attempting a rescue.