Lake safety in the Black Hills
RAPID CITY, S.D. — You might spend the summer on the lake, either on a boat or out for a swim.
With the recent news of actress Naya Rivera’s drowning and a drowning in Belle Fourche over the weekend, we are reminded of the importance of water safety.
Lakes can be a source of family fun where memories are created, and summer traditions live on.
It is important to go to the lake prepared whether you get there by boat or car.
Pack life vests for both children and adults. Even if you know how to swim, water can be cold, you can get a cramp, or encounter a high-stress situation.
All life jackets have a specific size and weight capacity which can be found directly on the jacket.
Here in Western South Dakota a majority of the lakes have little to no current, but because of the many man-made reservoirs, it is important to keep away from the inflow and outflow points.
“So anytime you’re really close to where the water is coming in or really close to where the water is going out you have the potential to have a current,” says Wildlife Conservation Officer, Chris Dekker.
If you are not a strong swimmer it’s always important to remain in an area where of the lake where you can stand.
“Drop-offs is a different story, you look at Pactola. Pactola is a really deep lake. It’s 130-150 feet in spots out there. You get down on Orman, or up on Orman and down on Angostura, you’re going to have a lot more gentle sloping beaches, you’re not going to have as steep of drop-offs,” Dekker adds.
Always read signs surrounding the lake or reservoir, which typically indicated depth and water conditions.
Some lakes also have designated boating and swimming area, so make sure you’re swimming in the appropriate area.
If you have questions or concerns before your lake trip, it’s best to contact lake staff in advance.