Plunge in frigid water can be deadly |

Plunge in frigid water can be deadly

Staff Reports

Some tips to stay safe on Lake Tahoe include:

Never swim alone.

Tell a friend or file a “float plan” before boating, swimming or paddling.

Check the weather for wind conditions before going out.

Know your swimming limitations and always wear a life jacket when boating.

Never operate a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Never jump into cold water and always prepare for accidental immersion.

Visitors to Lake Tahoe can learn about safe boating and swimming safety by listening to an NDOW podcast on the subject at Boaters are required to carry a life jacket for every person on board any boat, including stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and rafts. Children 12 years old and younger are required to wear a life jacket on a boat at all times, unless in an enclosed cabin.

The only deputy that Douglas County lost in the line of duty died when he had a heart attack after plunging into Lake Tahoe’s frigid waters on May 24, 1998.

Reserve Deputy Ed Callahan fell in 15 feet of water when a dinghy capsized near Zephyr Cove.

Cold water shock is a factor in many of the drowning incidents that occur at Lake Tahoe, and warm summer weather makes people even more vulnerable to the frigid waters.

“We want visitors to enjoy the uniquely beautiful waters of Lake Tahoe, but also be aware of the conditions and prepare themselves for cold water,” said Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park Supervisor Jay Howard.

Lake Tahoe has already seen a number of water rescues this year. Deputies from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office recovered three people after a Jet Ski accident. All three victims were rescued without serious injury because they were wearing life jackets, proving again that life jackets can make the difference between life and death.

Swimmers and boaters suddenly exposed to the cold waters of Lake Tahoe may experience rapid breathing, gasping, fainting, muscle failure and immediate risk of drowning, according to the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

The best way for boaters, paddlers and swimmers to stay safe is to always wear a life jacket.

“If you get into trouble in the water, a life jacket will save your life. We’ve seen it over and over. These fatal accidents can be avoided,” said Chief Game Warden Tyler Turnipseed of the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

Officials at Lake Tahoe are bracing for possible fatal accidents over the Fourth of July holiday.

Lake Tahoe may have claimed 20-year-old Marc Ma, of Honolulu, Hawaii, who has been missing since June 12. The Placer County Sheriff’s Office announced that it was halting the search for Ma’s body on Wednesday.