Summer means water, and there’s no better place to enjoy water activities than Utah Lake!
Whether you’ve been out on the water all summer, or are about to take your first trip, we all could use a safety brush-up. In order to ensure that everyone in your group stays safe, we created this quick guide for Utah Lake and any other body of water you visit.
Watch the Weather
One of the most important factors when recreating on Utah Lake is the need to carefully watch the weather. An afternoon thunderstorm or strong winds can quickly blow in and instantly transform a calm, sunny day into capsize-inducing waves. Utah Lake’s shallow depth — just 14 feet at its deepest point — makes the water especially sensitive to changes in the weather.
Before going out on the lake, check and double check the weather to ensure that no major storms are approaching. The app Windy Lookout was created for recreational users of Utah Lake who wanted to be aware of any potential danger before heading out. The app monitors weather data and then alerts users of any potential dangers via push notification or text. When lightning is in the forecast, you may want to stay out of the water. If a storm has left Utah Lake, the Red Cross recommends not entering the water for thirty minutes after the last thunderclap.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
When in the open water, there will be others out enjoying Utah Lake too. Be especially aware of individuals in the water. Whenever towing anyone on skis, wakeboards, or tubes, be sure to place an international orange flag that’s at least 12” x 12” on a handle that is clearly visible to let others know members of your group are outside of the boat. Utah law mandates that boaters can only tow people between sunrise and sunset. Any sort of towing in the dark is not only dangerous, but illegal.
It’s also important to keep an eye out for natural hazards such as rocks or clumps of vegetation. As a shallow lake, obstacles are often closer than they appear, so be cautious as you navigate and enjoy the lake.
On a Boat? Wear Your Life Jacket!
Utah law requires that every boat have a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket for each person on board. Life jackets need to be the correct size for every passenger and be in good condition. All boaters 12 and under must wear a life jacket at all times, and it is strongly encouraged that everyone older also wear a jacket. But when towing someone behind a boat, the law requires the person being pulled to wear a proper fitting life jacket.
The Division of Utah State Parks estimates that about 80% of boating fatalities could have been prevented with a life jacket. Even the strongest swimmers aren’t immune to turbulent waters, a capsize, injuries, or other medical emergencies.
Don’t Go Alone
When heading to Utah Lake, we strongly recommend that you bring someone with you. Always be sure to share your plans with family or friends before setting off. Consider sharing your cell phone’s GPS location with people you trust. Popular apps like Apple’s Find My allows friends and family to see your exact location for any amount of time, and is a secure way to help people quickly locate you during an emergency.
Get Out and Enjoy Utah Lake
Utah Lake is located in the center of Utah Valley, right in so many Utahns’ backyard. You don’t need to travel far to experience world-class recreation on Utah’s largest natural freshwater lake. With these safety tips in mind, get out and explore everything that Utah Lake has to offer!
Written by Christopher Hales