PLAYING IT SAFE ON LAKE
|Boaters enjoy a warm September day on Lake Pleasant.
Photo by Kirsten Roth
As Arizonans flood to
the great outdoors this fall, a little caution will go a long way toward
keeping lake outings pleasant. Higher visitor traffic and its associated
hazards lead to higher risk for lake-goers. One of the most dangerous
is Lake Pleasant, a popular recreation area just west of Phoenix.
According to Valerie Ergish
of the Lake Pleasant Regional Park, almost 600,000 people visit the
lake every year. In 2002, 75,000 watercraft used its boat ramps, docks
and water resources.
Unlike several other Arizona
lakes, an unlimited number of watercraft can use Lake Pleasant at the
same time. The smaller and narrower Saguaro Lake in the East Valley
restricts the number of boats on the lake to prevent accidents. By late
morning on a busy weekend, many boats wait in the Saguaro Lake overflow
Windy and choppy lake conditions,
summer heat and alcohol add to the risk, resulting in numerous water-related
accidents and an average of 10 deaths every year.
According to Detective Ken
Lignoski of the Maricopa County Lake Patrol, accidental drowning and
boating accidents account for an average of 10 deaths each year on Lake
Pleasant. “At least 50 percent of the accidents that occur at
Lake Pleasant have alcohol as a contributing factor,” Lignoski
The Maricopa County Lake Patrol
employs detectives, divers and medical staff. Police officers with jet
skis, boats, ATVs and four-wheel-drive vehicles patrol the lake to minimize
hazards and respond to accidents.
Of course, the best prevention
for water-related accidents is playing it safe. With a little caution
and a few safety tips in mind, Arizonans can enjoy the scenic views
and rainbow of colors surrounding Lake Pleasant.