Lake Mead reiterates boating, swimming safety ahead of holiday weekend

LAS VEGAS - The holiday Memorial Day weekend is right around the corner, so park rangers at Lake Mead National Recreation Area have taken new steps to prevent drownings and keep visitors safe.

More than three and a half million people are expected to visit Lake Mead over the next three months.  From constantly changing water levels to reckless boating, the fun at Lake Mead can turn dangerous for visitors if they aren't careful.

In the past 10 years, more than 80 people drowned in the lake.
But, there's one device park rangers hope everyone will use, and they say it could literally be a life-saver.

"Today was very calm.  The wind's died down so not too bad," boater Donnie Starling said.  "It can get really treacherous out here."

After being out on Lake Mead for most of the morning, Starling, brought in his boat for the day.

"You'll see people doing all sorts of dumb things," Starling said, so he likes to leave before the chaos.

"It's going to get crazy," he said.

More than 150,000 people are expected to be at Lake Mead in about a week for memorial day weekend.

"Drownings are the number one cause of deaths here at Lake Mead, said Christie Vanover, Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

However, Lake Mead Park rangers are working to put a stop to the dangerous practices that sometimes turn deadly.

"Some of the risky behavior a lot of times happens with personal watercraft," Vanover said.  "They like to jump the waves behind the people riding the boats.  "It's important to be aware of your surroundings and have proper boating etiquette."

Vanover says wearing life jackets is important.

"A life jacket can and will save your life," according to Vanover. "This lake out here is not a swimming pool. There's no edge to grab onto.  You can't see the bottom and the waves can quickly create waves that are three, four, five feet high."

The water level is constantly changing.  In an effort to make boat launches safer, Lake Mead has added more cementing into the water.

"You just don't spin out so you can actually get your boat in and out safely without getting stuck," Starling said.

But despite the precautions, Starling says he will be staying away until the crowds clear out.

"I'll stay away for Memorial Day for sure," said Starling.  "There's no reason to be out here for that mess."

Kids 12 and under need to wear life jackets while on a boat in the water.  The boat also has to have life jackets for everyone on board in case there's an emergency.
  
They're giving them away tomorrow at lake mead.
  


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