Lake Tahoe Swim Smart Swim Safe Program

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A multi-agency effort entitled “Swim Smart, Swim Safe: know the dangers of cold water” seeks to reduced boating and other water sports accidents on Lake Tahoe.

Drowning incidents from boating, paddling, and swimming often share the same cause, “cold water shock,” an involuntary gasp reflex caused by sudden immersion in cold water. 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.

Most of the drownings on Lake Tahoe happen in minutes or even seconds. The best way for boaters, paddlers and swimmers to stay safe is to always wear a life jacket. Even if a boater or paddler does not expect to enter the water, they should prepare for the unexpected.

“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 (NDOW).

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

source: Nevada Department of Wildlife

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