Lake Mead Wardens Prepare For Busy Holiday Weekend, Remind Boaters to Prepare
Non-emergency calls are taking more time, and when serious emergencies arrive, wardens are often tied up with something easily preventable, said Lieutenant David Pfiffner, supervising game warden for Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
Lake Mead has seen 15 people die already this year in a variety of accidents, and even if an accident is not boating related, game wardens have a duty to respond. The problem is that when serious accidents happen, game wardens are often tied up on non-emergency calls like a disabled vessel.
“Towing a boat that ran out of gas from one side of Lake Mead to the other is very time consuming,” said Pfiffner. “If we are tied up with something like this, and someone gets hurt on the other side of the lake, it can create huge logistical problems while slowing our response time.”
For people out enjoying the lake, particularly during the holiday weekends, there are many steps that can be taken to ensure a safe outing, including filling up the gas tank, making sure the boat is mechanically sound, having a fully charged battery and opting to stay off the water if the wind and weather conditions are unsafe for boating. If a boater does encounter a simple mechanical problem, a game warden or volunteer may not be able to help, leaving the boat stranded for long periods of time. Even when help arrives, boaters will get rescued, but the boat may have to stay until a professional is hired to recover it if a game warden does not have time to tow it.
“We see boaters get in trouble on Lake Mead, and it is completely preventable,” said Captain Fred Messmann, Nevada’s boating law administrator. “Sometimes people make bad choices to go out when it is windy or forget to make sure the boat will even start before they launch. When we are dealing with these kinds of issues, it can put their lives and the lives of others in danger.”
Boaters who do go out, regardless of the weather or boating conditions should make sure to carry life jackets, according to Pfiffner. “Kids under 13 years old have to wear life jackets,” he said, “But, I think that anyone who is a weak swimmer, anyone under 16 years old and any passenger who has been drinking should absolutely wear a life jacket too.”
The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) protects, restores and manages fish and wildlife, and promotes fishing, hunting, and boating safety. NDOW’s wildlife and habitat conservation efforts are primarily funded by sportsmen’s license and conservation fees and a federal surcharge on hunting and fishing gear. Support wildlife and habitat conservation in Nevada by purchasing a hunting, fishing, or combination license. For more information, visit www.ndow.org.