Take safety precautions when boating on Lake Tahoe over Labor Day weekend | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Take safety precautions when boating on Lake Tahoe over Labor Day weekend

Special to the Tribune
Additional patrols on the lookout for drunken boaters will be on Lake Tahoe this weekend as part of Operation Dry Water, which is a national campaign.
File Photo

As the last hurrah of the boating season begins this Labor Day weekend, the Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) is reminding everyone to take extra precautions to prevent a tragedy for you and your loved ones.

With many boaters and water enthusiasts out on Lake Tahoe and California’s other lakes, rivers and coast, DBW has three simple tips to stay safe.

Always Wear a Life Jacket

“Life jackets are the easiest and best preventive action you can take to increase your chances of survival,” said DBW Acting Deputy Director Ramona Fernandez. “Everyone, not just children, should wear a life jacket at all times when near, in or on the water.”

Life jackets are a non-negotiable on any boating trip. U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that more than 80% of those who drowned were not wearing a life jacket. Don’t let your family and friends be part of this statistic. Assign each passenger with a properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket prior to departure.

Under California law, a life jacket is required for each person on board a recreational vessel. Children under 13 years of age on a moving vessel of any length, all personal watercraft riders, and anyone being towed behind a boat are required to wear a life jacket while recreating.

The law does not apply to children under 13 years of age who are on a sailboat and are constrained by a harness tethered to the sailboat, in an enclosed cabin, or a vessel engaged in an emergency rescue situation.

Leave Your Alcohol on the Shore

Buzzed boating, or boating under the influence of alcohol or other substances is involved in one out of three boating fatalities. Do not bring or consume alcohol or other drugs while on the water. Alcohol use is the primary contributing factor in over 30% of boater fatalities, according to U.S. Coast Guard statistics. Tragedy can be avoided when boaters choose not to drink while boating.

Consuming alcohol negatively impacts vision, balance and reaction times and can cause dehydration. The effects of alcohol are heightened on the water compared to on land, with the environmental stressors such as wind, noise and vibrations of the boat.

Boating under the influence is illegal on all bodies of water. Law enforcement can terminate your voyage and issue citations if you are found to be impaired.

Know About the Dangers of Cold Water Immersion and Shock

Even on a hot day, the water temperature can be cold and trigger cold water immersion and shock, which is the cause of many boating-related fatalities. The danger increases as water temperature decreases below normal body temperature (98.6 degrees F). At Tahoe, the water temperature in the summer is around 60 degrees.

If you find yourself suddenly in cold water, try to control breathing, don’t gasp. An unexpected fall into cold water causes an involuntary gasp. You have about one minute to adjust to the cold shock response. When you remain calm, you will have a greater chance of self-rescue.

Always stay with your boat or paddleboard for flotation aid or to be more easily seen by rescuers. If possible, remove heavy shoes/boots and look for ways to increase buoyancy. If in the water with others, huddle together with everyone facing inward to help stay afloat and keep warm.

Visit BoatCalifornia.com for general boating safety information.

This article was provided by California State Parks. Learn more at http://www.parks.ca.gov.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.