Memorial Day weekend is always a big time for boaters on Arizona lakes. It also can be a dangerous time. Already this year, Arizona Game and Fish reports that three people have been killed and nine injured in boating accidents around the state. We spoke with Game and Fish boating-safety coordinator, Josh Hoffman, about what to keep in mind before heading out on the water.
Hoffman stressed that the number one thing you can do on the water to stay safe is to make sure you wear a life jacket.
Every summer Arizona Game and Fish puts on a life jacket exchange program where the public is able to exchange old life jackets for new ones. This is possible through U.S Coast Guard grant funding.
Hoffman also made the point to always contact someone with information about where you’re going and what you’re wearing before heading out into the water, in case of a needed search and rescue. Electronic apps also make this process easy to send out your information to multiple people.
On the topic of electronics, it’s important to head out to national parks with a fully charged cellphone. Portable chargers are also convenient to carry when you’re out in nature for several hours.
Keep in mind that some Arizona lakes are out of reach from cellular service. It is possible in several locations, such as Lake Pleasant, that you might have to move in order to be able to make a phone call. This goes back to making sure someone else is aware of where you’re going to be in case of an emergency.
Another important tip is boat sober. “Save that for once you get back to your campsite or back home. It’s not worth it on the water. You don’t do it while you’re driving down the highway. Don’t do that when you’re operating a boat either,” Hoffman said.