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​Boating​ Safety Tips for an Enjoyable Outing

Boaters enjoying the day on Long Ravine on Rollins Lake.

There are many ways to enjoy the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and boating is definitely toward the top of the list. Maybe you finally made that boat purchase you’ve been wanting, or perhaps you’re just planning to rent one a few times this summer? Before you get out on the lake, here are a few boating safety tips to ensure your trip is so enjoyable that you’ll be planning your next outing immediately.

How to Have a Safe Experience

The reservoirs within the Nevada Irrigation District are perfect for boating, kayaking and paddleboarding (as well as fishing and swimming!). You’ll find plenty of boat launches for easy access. 

You’ll also want to be aware of a few safety tips so you and your friends and family have a safe and fun time:

  • Do not operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This applies to paddleboards and kayaks, as well.
  • Comply with all warning signs in fishing areas
  • Know the signs of drowning (it happens fast and quietly)
  • Wear a life vest (even if you can swim or the water level is low)
  • Tell someone your float plan (this way, if you don’t check back in with them, they’ll know to send help)
  • Avoid sudden immersion in cold water (believe it or not, this can cause a heart attack or even temporary paralysis, which then can cause drowning)
  • Bring sunscreen
  • Keep all children under your constant supervision
  • Be aware of the weather (while the weather is typically lovely most of the summer, we do get the occasional lighting and thunderstorms)
  • Obey all warning or caution signs before entering the water to swim
  • Do NOT dive or jump into shallow water
  • Never fish, swim, or boat alone
  • Have a boat safety kit on board
  • Don’t overcrowd the boat with people
  • Consider taking a boating safety class

Safety Tips to Know Before You Boat

NID crew installing safety booms in front of the dam at Milton Reservoir. This is to warn boaters that they are close to the dam. The water may look still, but the flow can pull boats, kayaks and swimmers to the edge.

There are a few other essential matters to consider before getting your boat in the water. First and foremost, there are no lifeguards. Swimming is only allowed in designated areas. 

These rules have been put in place for everyone's safety to ensure Nevada Irrigation District remains a safe and beautiful destination for families and friends to spend quality time. Also, there are no glass containers permitted on the beach. It’s also a good idea not to have glass on the boat.

Diving is not permitted. While our waters are beautiful and pristine, diving from any cliffs, trees, or rocks is not safe. Also, please no rope swings (or any other object tied to trees). We understand the urge to recreate that water scene from your favorite movie that leaves you with all the feels from your childhood. Still, it’s not worth the risk of severe injury, and it’s not permitted. 

For those of you who own your boat, there is no overnight boat camping on the lake or in the reservoirs. Sorry. 

Finally, whoever drives the boat must comply with all state and local laws and regulations. This includes alcohol. Just like you can get a DUI on the roads, you can get one driving a boat too.

Boat Safety Classes

One of the best things you can do before you go boating is to take a boat safety course.

California Boating Courses

There are several options for boating safety courses you can take that are approved by the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways. Many of them are offered online and vary in price. Some are even free. 

There are even classes available for children. Parents and teachers can sign their kids up for the K-12 AquaSmart safety curriculum. It can be a learning experience for the whole family!

California Boater Card

California Boater Card

Like a driver’s license, you will receive a boater card once you complete a boating course. As of January 1, 2022, California requires anyone operating a motorized boat aged 45 years or younger to have a boater card. By 2025, all operators will have to have one. The card costs $10. If you lose it, the replacement fee is $5.

Enjoy the Water

Now that you have some safety tips to keep in mind and options to consider for boat safety classes, we hope you have an enjoyable summer boating on the many lakes and reservoirs within Nevada Irrigation District. We truly believe that spending time in nature is the best way to appreciate what we have and drive us to take care of the land and waters we enjoy.

Want to protect NID lakes and reservoirs for future generations to enjoy? Get involved in our Plan for Water. We will be working closely with the community to ensure prudent management of water resources for the next 50 years.  ​​Plan for Water Special Workshops are held every 2nd Tuesday of the month at 4 pm.

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