Boating Tips: Stay Safe on Lake Tahoe
Despite generally safe conditions afforded by Lake Tahoe, boaters need to be prepared for dangerous situations.
When out in the water, individuals should ensure their vessel is equipped with the safety equipment required by federal law. Such items include life jackets, fire extinguishers, a whistle, a bell or horn, a visual distress signal or flare, a ventilation duct allowing for proper ventilation of inboard gasoline engines and a backfire flame arrestor for inboard engines.
Lake Tahoe has many underwater hazards, such as boulders and rock piles, which may emerge as lake levels drop. Most of the obstructions are marked by the U.S. Coast Guard with white buoys, which should be kept between the boat and the shore. Wind can also be a deceptive problem; abrupt gusts of high intensity can capsize small watercraft. In the event of sudden wind gusts, head for protective harbors until conditions improve. Also, consult detailed weather forecasts before heading out.
Alcohol is a significant cause of many boating related accidents, injuries and fatalities. Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a federal offense punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and one year in prison. Always have a designated driver.
Lake Tahoe is an alpine lake, which means the water temperature is cool year round, making it conducive to hypothermia for those exposed to sudden immersion. This fact can render self-rescue in such cases difficult if not impossible. Tahoe’s temperature necessitates wearing a life jacket when out on the water.
Have fun and be safe!