PHOENIX — Monsoon season is in full swing and the Arizona Game and Fish Department warns boating and off-highway vehicle (OHV) users that weather conditions can change quickly and could be dangerous for those who aren’t prepared.
The severity of monsoon storms varies greatly from a minor dust storm to a violent thunderstorm capable of producing hail, deadly lightning and/or flash flooding.
Recent storms brought high winds, thunderstorms and rough water to the Lake Pleasant area. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office reported that deputies made multiple water rescues on July 14 and 15:
– Two paddle boarders were rescued July 14 after being knocked into the water by a severe thunderstorm; one of them was not wearing a personal flotation device. One of the women was taken by ambulance to a local hospital and was released after treatment.
– Also on July 14, three juveniles operating a Wave Runner personal watercraft encountered storms. One of the juveniles was rescued by a family member, while the other two were secured by Lake Patrol deputies.
– On July 15, 10 people were pulled from the water and no one sustained significant injuries.
In addition, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office reported that there were multiple instances of property damage — four boats sunk, another beached after becoming partially submerged, and damage was incurred to numerous other boats.
“Arizona is known as a great place for outdoor recreation and activities. But whether you’re out on a boat or riding an OHV, weather is a critical factor that everyone must pay attention to,” said Josh Hoffman, Boating Safety Education coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “If severe weather is likely or storms are appearing nearby, it’s a good time to safely get off of the water or riding trails and move indoors.”
The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Boating and OHV Safety Education programs offer users the following tips to protect themselves and passengers during the monsoon season.
When on a boat or personal watercraft:
– While life jackets are legally required for children 12 and younger, everyone should wear a life jacket at all times while on the water. Storms can create large waves that could knock a passenger from the boat.
– Monitor the weather around you, and use a weather radio for updates from the National Weather Service. If storms are predicted or are building, pull your boat out of the water or consider postponing your outing.
– Secure all gear above and below decks.
– Keep everyone aboard away from electrical and ungrounded components, and remain as low in the boat as possible.
– Slow down but keep enough power to maintain headway and steering.
– Turn on your navigation lights.
– If possible, head for the nearest shore that is safe to approach. It may be best to ride it out in open water rather than try to approach the shore in heavy wind and waves.
– Boats should head the bow into the waves at a 45-degree angle. Personal watercrafts should head directly into the waves.
When on an OHV:
– Always wear proper safety gear, including a helmet, eye protection, long sleeves, pants, over-the-ankle boots and gloves.
– Carefully seek shelter indoors as storms are developing or are nearby.
– Never cross running water. While it may look shallow, it may be deep enough that it could push the vehicle downstream or you may get stuck in loose sediment.
– Drive slowly to not lose control on muddied trails.
– To avoid being struck by lightning, avoid open fields, high land, trees, poles or other tall objects and standing bodies of water.
– Be aware of and avoid flash flood zones.
For more information on boating in Arizona, visit www.azgfd.gov/boating. For more information on riding an OHV in Arizona, visit www.azgfd.gov/OHV.