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Be safe on Lake Tahoe during fireworks

Special to the Sun

TAHOE, Calif. — The North Lake Tahoe Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteers time and boats to help patrol the fireworks shows around Lake Tahoe. It is always a wonderful event for the community. By following some simple guidelines the boating public will have a safer and more enjoyable experience during the show.

Where to watch: This is obviously a personal preference but the closer you are to the barge the more you have to crane your neck to see the fireworks. If you’re downwind you may be showered with ash or embers from the fireworks. More importantly are the safety considerations. The Coast Guard issues permits for these events and specify that spectators should not be any closer than 1,000 feet. The organizers are required to put out marker buoys at this distance but frankly the distances are not always “spot on.” This is why the Coast Guard Auxiliary and local law enforcement boats (equipped with GPS devices) circle the barge and asks those who are too close to move back. Please honor this request for your safety and viewing enjoyment.

Navigation lights: Boats operating or anchoring after sunset are required by law to display proper lights, even if you’re not making way and are anchoring. More importantly, check your boat’s lights before you start out. It is common for operators not to be able to find the pole for their masthead light, to not know where the switches are on their dashboard and even more common for them not to be operational. If you can’t display the proper lights you are in violation and could end up with a citation. Because of the seriousness of this offense, you could get your “voyage terminated.” In lay terms this means you’ll be told to return to port. Take a couple of minutes before you start out to make sure this doesn’t happen to you and make this a disappointing holiday.

Life jackets: You are required to have a Coast Guard approved life jacket (of the proper size) on board for everyone on your vessel. If you have a lot of guests on board you may need more life jackets than you usually carry. Children 12 and younger are required to wear theirs. You also need a Type IV throwable cushion or life ring readily accessible.

Boat capacity: Your boat will have an information plate, usually near the operator’s position, that specifies the maximum number of passengers and/or weight. For safety this should not be exceeded (it too is a “terminate the voyage” offense).

Boating under the influence: Simply stated, don’t drink and boat!

The Coast Guard Auxiliary wishes you an enjoyable experience watching the fireworks. Be safe out there.

For more information on boating and navigation please visit http://www.uscgboating.org.


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