Important Water Safety Tips
Lake Tahoe water can be very cold just under the warm surface. Inconsistent weather conditions can pose a threat and can be risky for all ages, not just children. Cold water and high altitude make for very different swimming conditions. Additionally, the weather in Lake Tahoe can change drastically within a short period of time, therefore, be cautious and plan accordingly if spending the day on the lake. Please stay in close proximity to your child.
For current real-time Lake Tahoe meteorological conditions visit this UC Davis page and follow the prompts.
Please pay close attention anytime you are around water. Drowning is not like it is portrayed on TV. Drowning is usually silent with no warning and little to no splashing. The victim will rarely have the ability to scream and splash. Parents must keep a vigilant eye on children whenever near water as a disaster may occur within only a few moments of distraction.
With that in mind, as long as you are aware and take appropriate precautions for your skill level, there is nowhere quite as magical as Lake Tahoe to enjoy summer adventures!
"Swim Smart, Swim Safe: know the dangers of cold water" is the message coming from agencies responsible for boating and water safety on Lake Tahoe, especially after the recent deaths in the lake of two healthy men.
Drowning incidents from boating, paddling and swimming often share the same cause, "cold water shock," an involuntary gasp reflex caused by sudden immersion in cold water. Swimmers and boaters suddenly exposed to the cold waters of Lake Tahoe may experience rapid breathing, gasping, fainting, muscle failure and immediate risk of drowning.
An average of seven people die in the cold water of Lake Tahoe every year, and local agencies are getting together to try and reduce these numbers. They'll be gathering at Sand Harbor July 1 to share information on "cold water shock" with participants including local law enforcement boats and fire rescue departments.
Most of the drownings on Lake Tahoe happen in minutes or even seconds. The best way for boaters, paddlers and swimmers to stay safe is to always wear a life jacket. Even if a boater or paddler does not expect to enter the water, they should prepare for the unexpected.
"If you get into trouble in the water, a life jacket will save your life. We’ve seen it over and over. These fatal accidents can be avoided," said Chief Game Warden Tyler Turnipseed of the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW).
Lake Tahoe has already seen a number of water rescues this year. Deputies from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office recovered three people after a Jet Ski accident. All three victims were rescued without serious injury because they were wearing life jackets, proving again that life jackets can make the difference between life and death.
In the recent incident involving a UNR football player who was a surfer, trained swimmer and athlete, the cold water presumably killed him (his body has not been found yet) according to Tahoe Douglas Fire Marshall Eric Guevin.
Officials at Lake Tahoe are bracing for possible fatal accidents over the Fourth of July holiday. When the weather is warm outside, people are even more vulnerable to cold water shock if they fall in the lake.
"We want visitors to enjoy the uniquely beautiful waters of Lake Tahoe, but also be aware of the conditions and prepare themselves for cold water," said Jay Howard, Park Supervisor at Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park.
Some tips to stay safe on Lake Tahoe include:
-Never swim alone.
-Tell a friend or file a "float plan" before boating, swimming or paddling.
-Check wind conditions http://www.weather.gov/ before going out.
-Know your swimming limitations and always wear a life jacket when boating.
-Never enter the water under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
-Never jump into cold water and always prepare for accidental immersion.
-Boaters are required to carry a life jacket for every person on board any boat, including stand up paddle boards (SUP), kayaks and rafts. Children 12 years old and younger are required to wear a life jacket at all times.