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Memorial Day Means Big Business at Canoe Rentals but a Recent Dr - KOAM TV 7

Memorial Day Means Big Business at Canoe Rentals but a Recent Drowning Brings Warnings of Obstacles

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Elk River canoe obstacles Elk River canoe obstacles
  Memorial Day weekend means more people will head to the rivers to kick off the summer season.But rivers can be a big source of both fun and danger.

   The canoeing death of a twelve year old boy on the Elk river last weekend calls attention to a trouble spot and brings a reminder of the importance of putting safety first.

Canoeist and kayakers on the river today screamed and laughed as they moved through a swift "s" curve. The current pushed one canoe toward a brush pile. It's the same spot where a 12-year-old boy  drowned last Saturday when his canoe tipped and he became trapped. He wasn't wearing a life jacket.

McDonald County emergency management director Gregg Sweeten says "There's a huge tree with a root ball on it  so it kind of forms it down into a  shallower narrow area. Then there's the brush pile which  makes  it tricky to get through."

Jim Monroe who operates Kozy Kamp canoe rentals says,  "If you're prepared, you can get out and actually walk around this spot. There's a beach where you can walk around." 

That's the message all  outfitters like Kozy Kamp will share with visitors this holiday weekend. Crews at Kozy Kamp  are getting canoes ready for what is the biggest weekend of the year for business.

They have two hundred canoes, fifty  kayaks, plus rafts and personal floats and expect all to be on the river. And recent rains have created a swift flow.

Sweeten says, "Right now, it's perfect. It really is. If you're an experienced canoer or if you're a canoer,  you know, you don't have to paddle. All you have to do is pretty much guide yourself."

But higher water after rains can also hide things.

Monroe says,  "Everything in the water's an obstacle. Trees, rocks, it's a river. Everything is an obstacle." The message is you need to pay attention.

Kozy Kamp has created its own option for the inexperienced canoeist called a kanak which is  designed not to tip.

Monroe says, "These are solid, styrofoam boats with a flat bottoms which are fiberglass.  You can stand up on it  and walk front to back and it's very, very difficult to tip over. "

Both Monroe and Sweeten say even if you tip, the key to being safe on the river is what you wear.

Sweeten says, "The life jackets . You've got  to have those life jackets on ."

The emergency management director  also says it's important to keep an eye on the weather, checking for storms  as well as the river levels.

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