Three Tahoe drownings prompt safety warning

A person who was rescued Aug. 4 from drowning was taken to Sand Harbor via a Nevada Department of Wildlife boat.

A person who was rescued Aug. 4 from drowning was taken to Sand Harbor via a Nevada Department of Wildlife boat.
North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District

With three drownings at Lake Tahoe so far this summer, The North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District said there have been an increased number of water rescues at Lake Tahoe due to the cold water temperatures.

Two men died at the Lake within two days of one another on July 29 and 30.

A jet skier who drowned off Zephyr Point on July 30 was identified as 37-year-old William Siu of Concord, Calif. Juan Gonzales-Juarez, 32, of Colton, Calif. was found in the water on July 29 off Sand Harbor.

Tahoe Douglas responded to the Zephyr Point incident while North Lake Tahoe rescuers to the Sand Harbor incident.

While no cause of death has been announced, Tahoe’s 67-degree water can cause cold water shock, swim failure, and hypothermia, which can be deadly, according to the district.

“We have already responded to several water rescues this summer,” said NLTFPD Fire Chief Ryan Sommers. “We want to remind everyone to be aware of the dangers of cold water and to take precautions to stay safe.”

Dive instructor Shaun Larson died June 18 where he was reportedly aiding a student when he said he couldn’t breathe before collapsing.

Safety officials urge anyone on the Lake to always wear a life jacket.

“A life jacket is your best protection against drowning in cold water,” according to the district.

Here are some water safety tips for Lake Tahoe:

• Always wear a life jacket.

• Enter the water slowly and feet first.

• Never swim alone. Have a friend or family member with you in case you need help.

• Check the weather forecast for wind conditions. Strong winds can make it difficult to swim and boat.

• Be aware of the red flag warning status. A red flag warning indicates high fire danger, which can also make water rescue more difficult.

• File a float plan. Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back.

Here are some additional tips for staying safe in cold water:

• Dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. Wear a wetsuit or other appropriate clothing to stay warm.

• Avoid alcohol and drugs. Alcohol and drugs can impair your judgment and coordination, making it more difficult to stay safe in cold water.

• Know your limits. If you are not a strong swimmer, do not go into the water alone.

• Be prepared for anything. The weather can change quickly at Lake Tahoe, so be prepared for anything.


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