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Tropical storm warning and a flood watch throughout Virginia this Labor Day weekend

The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) is reminding all boaters to stay safe and sober this Labor Day weekend , and always wear a life jacket while on the water. A good day on the water can turn tragic in seconds. No matter where you boat–from large lakes and rivers to small farm ponds—wearing a life jacket and staying sober are essential for safety!
The National Weather Service has issued a tropical storm warning and a flood watch throughout the Commonwealth, so DWR urges you to use extra precaution this week and weekend.

Conservation Police Officers (CPOs) have responded to several boating incidents that have resulted in fatalities and injuries because boaters and anglers have attempted to navigate waters that were affected by heavy rains. These waters have significantly higher than normal water levels, dangerously swift currents, and trash and other debris that could be floating on the surface or just below the waterline.

Boaters should make sure they have U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets in good condition that fit every occupant of the boat, including children. 

No matter what time of year you go boating, always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.  Also, have a plan to reboard your boat in case the unexpected happens and you end up in the water.

Weather conditions and a marine forecast can be found on the National Weather Service website.  The United States Geological Survey has water temperatures for some inland lakes and rivers.

Lowhead dams are all around us in the Commonwealth. When you create your float plan, or before you venture out on your local waterway, familiarize yourself with lowhead dams.  Danger lurks above and below the dam. Water flowing over a drop forms a hole or hydraulic at the base which can trap objects washing over the drop. Backwash or recirculating current is formed below the dam. Once swept over the dam, a victim becomes trapped and is forced underwater, pushed away from the dam, then circulated to the top. The circulating motion then repeats the cycle over and over again as the individual is drawn back against the base of the dam.

Safety Tips to Follow:
¡• Scout the river and know the location of hazards. Talk with boaters who are familiar with the river to gain additional knowledge.
• Boat with experienced, responsible boaters and learn from them.
• Watch for a smooth horizon line where the stream meets the sky. This potentially indicates the presence of a dam.
• Look out for concrete retaining walls which are part of the dam structure and easier to spot.
• Portage around all dams.  When portaging, re-enter the river at a point well downstream of the boil.

To learn more about boating laws in Virginia and information on boating, boating education and water safety, go to:

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