Lake Mead is a popular destination for boating and water sports during spring and summer months, but as temperatures and crowds rise, so do risks for serious accidents and injuries.
Prepare for Safe Boating
As the largest reservoir in the country, Lake Mead has a large number of boating accidents each year due to unsafe boating practices and overcrowded waters. Although the lake covers 247 square miles, it’s filled to capacity with power boats, jet skis, houseboats, canoes and kayaks, as well as swimmers, fishermen, and scuba divers during warm weather. In 2015, there were over 2600 boating accidents and injuries and over 620 fatalities on Lake Mead.
When boating on Lake Mead, following boating rules and water safety procedures is essential to prevent accidents and injuries. Being prepared for the unexpected can be a life-saving advantage.
It’s essential to check the weather forecast before heading out on the lake. A pleasant, sunny day can quickly turn into a dangerous experience with a sudden change in the weather. If dark clouds, rain, or signs of a thunderstorm appear, heading for shelter and getting off of the water can prevent life-threatening injuries. As most experienced boaters realize, water attracts lightning, and being on the water during thunderstorms increases the risk of death from lightning strikes and electrocution.
Boaters must make sure that boats have proper safety and emergency equipment. It’s important to inspect all equipment to ensure that it works properly before hitting the water. When boating on Lake Mead, adults are advised to wear life jackets, and regulations require children under age 13 to wear Coast Guard approved life jackets at all times. Strong winds create choppy water and large waves that rock the boat and increase the risk of being thrown overboard and drowning.
Before heading out in the boat, it’s a good idea to let someone know the daily agenda. If the boat doesn’t have a GPS system, a hand-held unit will provide navigation information for emergency crews if help is needed. Cell phone reception is limited on the water, so a marine band radio tuned to channel 16 or 22A will ensure communication. If the boat breaks down or gets stranded, extra blankets, food, and water will provide warmth and safety until rescuers arrive.