OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) — With record numbers of people visiting Utah lakes this summer, officials are preparing for one of the busiest weekends of the season. In Weber County, the sheriff’s office shares a simple message for those preparing to hit the water: life jackets save lives. In fact, at one Weber County reservoir, they are required for everyone.
By the end of the week, thousands of people will make the trip to Causey Reservoir to celebrate the Pioneer Day weekend. Some families have already made the trip to escape the high temperatures the entire state is experiencing.
“We like it here because there’s no motorized boats, so the waves don’t crash on us. It’s kind of the best place for kayaking, I say, in Utah,” Wesley Belflower told ABC4. He was spending time at Causey Reservoir with his family. Something his mother said they try to do weekly during the summer months. “It’s our favorite place to come every summer,” Shelly Belflower stated.
Before hitting the lake for Pioneer Day weekend, Weber County Sheriff’s Office asks everyone to follow life jacket laws regardless of which lake they go to. At any given lake, there needs to be at least one life jacket on board for each person, children under the age of 13 need to wear a life vest, and people who use a paddleboard do not necessarily need to wear a life jacket (unless they are under 13 years old) but a life jacket must be on the board, and life jackets need to be U.S. Coast Guard approved.
At Causey Reservoir, visitors need to be aware that life jacket requirements are different. Lt. Colby Ryan with the sheriff’s office stated: “Life jackets are to be worn all the time by everybody that’s enjoying the lake.” Yes, everyone on the water has to wear a jacket.
Causey Reservoir is in a remote area of Weber County with little to no cell service, narrow roads and no emergency services nearby (the closest fire station is in Huntsville). If someone is in an accident, it can easily turn fatal. Hence the reason for strict life jacket rules. “We want people to be safe but also have fun recreating,” Lt. Ryan said. The sheriff’s office has extra patrol during weekends and will cite people who do not wear their life jackets.
Lt. Ryan explained that the water at Causey is very deep, very cold, is surrounded by cliffs, and has strong underwater currents. He said those factors make a recovery nearly impossible. “It just makes it really dangerous for search teams to go down into the water.”
Along with following the life vest requirements, Lt. Ryan urged visitors to pay attention to the parking restrictions (signs are posted). He added: “We are in such a remote area up here that AirLife helicopters are crucial to responses to get somebody to the hospital quickly and if we have nowhere to land a helicopter up here because of people parking in the no parking areas, ultimately, the person who is hurt becomes a victim.” Ryan said cars that are parked incorrectly will be ticketed and possibly towed.
For some visitors, the strict lifejacket rules don’t dampen their fun. “Oh, I love it because I feel comfortable making sure that they have a life vest that fits,” Shelly Belflower said. “And that they’re out there and can enjoy the water without fear of drowning, and we always try to have an adult or someone older close with them.”
“It makes everyone feel, like, (they can) have fun and they’re still safe and out on the water,” Wesley Belflower said. “That’s why I like that rule.”
Lt. Ryan also said people should pay attention to alcohol laws while recreating. At Causey and Pineview reservoir, for instance, alcohol use is prohibited in day use areas.