Chief’s Corner: Water, boating safety paramount at Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is an alpine lake, 6,200 feet in elevation, approximately 22 miles long, 12 miles wide and 1,645 feet deep at its deepest point. It furnishes excellent boating opportunities under generally safe conditions.
There are, however, unique restrictions and hazards that we all should be aware of.
Water temperature: The surface temperature is approximately 40 degrees from December through April; during the summer months it can reach up to 70 degrees near the shore. Sudden immersion in ice-cold water can cause hypothermia only after a few minutes, resulting in numbness and helplessness, making self-rescue difficult. Be prepared at all times for adverse wind and water conditions. Wearing a life jacket when boating, jet skiing and paddle boarding is recommended. Water skiers should consider wearing a wetsuit.
Wind: Sudden high gusting winds that can capsize small craft may occur at any time, without warning. When a long, dark wind line appears on the water, it is best to head toward a sheltering harbor immediately. Listen to the National Weather Service radio broadcast before heading out on the lake, or call 775-673-8130. Be aware of small craft weather advisories.
File a float plan: Boaters can advise a responsible person on shore of your boating plans and expected time of return. Include your vessel’s name; description; number of passengers and their names/phone numbers; your destination; time of departure; and expected return.
Always have two ways of communication: Monitor channel 16 VHF-FM. In any kind of water emergency, immediately call 911 to initiate emergency rescue personnel response.
Check your safety equipment before you leave: This includes radio; life jackets; compass and chart; fire extinguisher; anchor and line; paddle and bailer; lights; flares and sound signaling device; basic tools; and spare parts.
“Chief’s Corner” is a regular feature in the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza from North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District Chief Mike Brown, offering information, tips and education material on fire safety, emergency preparedness and other pertinent topics.