Coast Guard Rescues Man Adrift Wearing Lifejacket

25-foot Response Boat-Small from Coast Guard Station Lake Tahoe file photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Pamela J. Manns.

25-foot Response Boat-Small from Coast Guard Station Lake Tahoe file photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Pamela J. Manns.

SAN FRANCISCO — The Coast Guard rescued a 45-year-old man after he fell from a jet ski near Cave Rock in Lake Tahoe, California, Wednesday.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector San Francisco command center received a report at approximately 5:30 p.m., of an unmanned and adrift jet ski in the vicinity of Cave Rock. Watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast and a Coast Guard Station Lake Tahoe boat crew was immediately launched. It was confirmed that a 45-year-old man was last seen on the jet ski wearing a yellow lifejacket and gray shorts.

The Coast Guard Station Lake Tahoe boat crew located the man alert, conscious and wearing a lifejacket. He was safely transported to emergency medical services. The South Lake Tahoe Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff’s Department, Douglas County Fire Department, Washoe County Care Flight, and the Nevada Division Wildlife, Washoe County also assisted in the search.

“This is a situation that could have ended very differently if this individual did not have a lifejacket on,” said Capt. Taylor Lam, commander, Sector San Francisco. “More than 75% of recreational boating accidents result in drownings and more than 85% of those victims were not wearing lifejackets.”

The Coast Guard recommends mariners heed the following safety tips below to help ensure their safety while on the water:

  • Always wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket while underway. Make sure that there is at least one properly-fitted life jacket for every passenger and that the life jackets are readily accessible if not worn. All children under 13 must wear a life jacket at all times.
  • Make sure your life jacket is properly fitted. People can slip out of ill-fitting life jackets when they hit the water, which decreases their chances of survival.
  • Don’t drink and boat. Aside from wearing a life jacket, not drinking and boating is one of the easiest ways to prevent accidental deaths on the water. People operating vessels under the influence of alcohol, drugs or impairing medication pose a serious threat to you and anyone else aboard.
  • Make a VHF radio your go-to means of communicating in an emergency. Cell phones may go out of range or lose battery power when needed most. Make sure you familiarize yourself with how to use it.
  • Take a boating safety course. The Coast Guard Auxiliary is one of many organizations that offer valuable boating safety courses ranging from electronic navigation to boat handling. Click here to register for a boating safety course.
  • Get a vessel safety check. The Coast Guard Auxiliary provides free boating safety checks. Get a free safety inspection from the Coast Guard Auxiliary to make sure you have all the gear and safety equipment required by your state and federal laws. Click here to find one near you.
  • Look at the weather and tides before you head out. It might look like a nice day, but squalls and shifting tides can change suddenly.
  • File a float plan. Tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Float plans provide a starting point to help find you if something happens.
  • Dress for the water, not for the weather. Check water temperatures before you go out and dress accordingly.
  • Know your navigation rules. Know how to properly navigate waterways and maintain lookouts to keep yourself and everyone else around you safe.
  • Locator beacons can help us find you faster. Attaching a functioning EPIRB to your boat, or a PPIRB to your life jacket, and knowing how to use them can help rescuers find and help you. In order to be most effective, these should be registered with the owner’s information and emergency contacts.
  • Label kayaks and paddlecraft. The Coast Guard often comes across adrift paddlecraft, and when they are properly labeled, it is easier for rescue personnel to confirm if there is an actual distress and save countless hours of searching when a person is not in distress.
  • Check out the Coast Guard Boating Safety app. You can file a float plan, request assistance, request a vessel safety check, and report pollution and hazards to navigation.

Additionally, beachgoers throughout California need to be aware of the dangers along the coast such as cold water, dangerous surf, sneaker waves and rip currents. California has seen a recent spike in the number of deaths due to sneaker waves over the past year. It is recommended that beachgoers look at the surf report to identify hazardous water conditions before visiting beaches.

  • Sneaker waves are deadly, larger-than-average swells that suddenly surge much farther up the beach following periods of quiet surf and smaller waves. NOAA recommends that beachgoers watch the waves for 15-30 minutes to identify how far up the beach waves are reaching.
  • Rip currents can occur wherever there are breaking waves. They don’t pull people under water, but can pull even the strongest swimmer far out to sea. People caught in a rip current should swim parallel to the shore until they are outside of the rip current, and then swim toward the shoreline.

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