Lake Mead increasing safety patrols for wave of Memorial Day weekend visitors

Published: May. 24, 2023 at 7:05 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Now that water levels are rising again at Lake Mead, and all five access points to get boats in the water are open, officials are expecting many more visitors this Memorial Day weekend compared to the thousands last year.

As always during busy holiday weekends, extra patrols will be out around Lake Mead, watching for violations and keeping people safe both on and off the water.

“Violations really run the gamut from folks using Styrofoam or glass, which is not allowed on our beaches, to speeding violations,” said Justin Pattison, Deputy Superintendent of the Lake Mead Recreation Area.

You also need to have enough life jackets for everyone on board, and kids under 13 need to be wearing one at all times while the boat is moving.

Officials said some safety violations could cost hundreds of dollars, or even a life.

“About 83% of people who die in boating-related accidents would be alive today if they had had their life jacket on at the time, so we really want to pursue that,“ said Doug Nielsen, Public Information Officer for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. “The other one would probably be operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Out here with the heat, and the sun and the movement on the water, one beer might have the effect of two.”

Nielsen said alcohol combined with the heat and motion of the waves can contribute to dehydration and crashes. Boaters also need to keep a safe distance from one another on the water.

“It’s actually five times the length of the longest boat, but the easiest way to say it is just keep a distance. If you can hit each other with the splash of the boats, you’re way too close,” Nielsen added.

Some more rules to keep in mind: if your boat is motorized, you need a fire extinguisher on board. Boats more than 16 feet long must have a throwable flotation device, and all of these items need to be easily accessible in case of emergencies.