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Boating on Lake Powell, Safety Rules

April 23
17:02 2014

Boating safety on Lake Powell is always a concern when the spring season begins; but you can be safe, stay alive and not be a statistic by following a few simple rules:

Wear a Life Jacket

safe boatingBy far, drowning is the leading cause of death around water. U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that in 2012, drowning was the cause of almost three-fourths of recreational boating fatalities. Of those who drowned, 85 percent were not wearing life jackets.

Every day I hear about the grim consequences of not wearing a life jacket while boating. You can still have fun on the water while choosing to always wear a life jacket and boating responsibly.”–Rachel Johnson, executive director of the National Safe Boating Council

National Safe Boating Week starts May 17, officially launching the 2014 North American Safe Boating Campaign. This yearlong campaign promotes safe and responsible boating and the value of wearing life jackets with the national theme, “Wear It!”

Stay Sober

Over 70 percent of boating accidents are due to operator error, and many of the most serious ones involve intoxication. Operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal and dangerous. In fact, operating a boat while impaired is just as dangerous as drinking while driving a car.

The increase in alcohol and drug-related boating accidents prompted state legislatures to enact BUI laws. Over half of all boating accidents involve alcohol or drugs. According to the Insurance Information Institute, alcohol is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. The U.S. Coast Guard reports that BUI incidents increase boating fatalities by approximately 34 percent.

You can be charged with BUI if you operate any type of water vessel under the influence, whether it’s a fishing boat, sailboat, yacht, personal watercraft, or sailboard.

Get a Good Map

Know where you’re going on Lake Powell. Use a good map to navigate. There are many unmarked water hazards in Lake Powell. Lake levels fluctuate throughout the year. The lake may be a lot higher in the summer than it is in the winter, meaning very different shorelines to deal with. Boating at night is not recommended.

Watch the Weather

Check weather reports and be aware of conditions on the lake. Lake Powell is notorious for high winds and, consequently, high waves. Summer is monsoon season, with thunderstorms sneaking up on a moments notice. Head for shore and seek shelter when storms threaten.

Swim at Your Own Risk

There are no lifeguards at Lake Powell. Don’t swim alone and know your limitations. Don’t even think about diving off the cliffs. Cliff jumping and diving is deadly and illegal. If you don’t die you could get arrested.

Always Ski With Three

It takes three people to water ski: the driver, skier, and spotter. When someone’s in the water, put up a brilliant orange flag so they don’t get run over. Never ski after dark.

Don’t be a Hood Ornament

Bow-riding is dangerous and illegal. So is riding on transoms or gunwales. Stay safe and stay in the boat while it’s moving.

More Information

More boating safety tips and information can be found on the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Resource Center. State rules and regulations for boaters on Lake Powell can be found on the Utah State Parks website and Arizona Game and Fish site.

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