Safety first: Avoid floating alone, wear a life vest and carry a whistle.

State law requires a life vest for each person aboard a boat. Children 12 and younger must wear them. Life vests aren't required on air mattresses. While a life vest is not required on a single inner tube, if you tie them together, you'll need life vests.

Any passenger on an inflatable boat must have a life vest.

Life vests aren't required on air mattresses.

No life vest is required on a single inner tube. However, tie them together and it is considered a watercraft, and you'll need life vests.

Use of alcohol is punishable by a $550 fine. Operating a watercraft, motorized or not, under the incluence is considered boating under the influence of intoxicants, which is the same as a DUII.

Floating safety checklist:

Weather: Check weather conditions and wear suitable clothing.

Route: Know the river's access and launch points, as well as dangers on the stretch you plan to float.

Plan: Tell someone where you're going, who you'll be with, when you expect to return and whom to call if you don't. Stick to your plan.

Pack: Take a basic first-aid kit, protective clothing, sunscreen, drinking water, a cellphone in a waterproof bag and spare paddles.

Law: Follow applicable laws for flotation devices, alcohol, boating and river use.

Prepare: Make sure your safety equipment works and that you're properly trained and in shape for the activity and for the conditions you'll face. Learn water-rescue techniques for yourself and for others. Learn CPR and about how hypothermia can affect you.

Take a group: Never float or boat alone, but don't take so many people that they can't be comfortably controlled. Designate a group leader. Once you get to the river, stay together.

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