Valley expert shares lake safety tips for Memorial Day weekend
May 27, 2022, 4:45 AM
PHOENIX — People looking to cool off at a lake this Memorial Day weekend are asked to do so safely after a string of drownings.
There have been four drowning deaths at Lake Pleasant alone this year, with the most recent being earlier this month.
When thinking of a drowning, people might picture a small child tragically falling into an unattended pool.
Rob Marske, a detective with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office’s Lake Patrol Division, said lake drownings are different in many cases.
“They’re not toddlers,” he said. “They’re [in their] late teens and mid 20’s.”
One problem is that lakes can be deeper and have stronger currents than many people realize.
“We want to ensure that when people do come out to the lake, they have a different mindset than going swimming in a backyard pool, where you can practically stand up anywhere,” Marske said.
It can also be easy to overestimate one’s swimming ability – especially when some of the alcohol from that cooler onshore gets involved.
Marske puts it frankly.
“There are two types of people: people that can swim… and actual swimmers,” he said.
He urges gatherings of people who go to the lake to designate a sober adult to watch the water and keep an eye on everyone swimming – and take another precaution that may seem obvious, but is one of the best ways to save lives.
“We would love it if everyone wore a life jacket,” Marske said. “Because if everyone had a life jacket on, they wouldn’t be drowning the way they are.”
Marske has some tips for those who don’t take the advice and end up too far from shore to get safely back to dry land.
“When you’re swimming and are exhausted, you need to turn over and float on your back,” he said.
“You can catch a breath or release that cramp in your leg that might have developed because you’re dehydrated.”
So grab a towel, put on sunscreen and enjoy the lake – but always take the proper precautions.