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Davis, California

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Partying safely at Houseboats 2011

Last year’s Memorial Day weekend, over 5,000 college students gathered on Shasta Lake’s houseboats for an event filled with alcohol, crowded boats and high spirits. This weekend will likely be similar in nature, but it will be a little bit safer with Safeboats.

As a way to ensure the health and safety of students on Houseboats, ASUCD has partially funded Safeboats since 2008 – relying on fundraising for the remaining amount. The program for the three-day event costs about $5,500 and provides free 24-hour medical services, water, condoms and granola bars.

Shasta Lake, only two and a half hours from Davis, is the largest reservoir in the state with over 300 miles of shoreline. Last year, 15 people were arrested (the majority due to boating under the influence) and fire rescue boats transported 13 to ambulances. The injuries varied from a broken leg to alcohol poisoning.

George Swinhoe, Interfraternity Council (IFC) executive vice president and junior computer science major, said students recognize the event campuswide and numerous campus groups participate annually.

“It’s a big end-of-the-year celebration. Everyone’s really excited for summer and it’s like a preview before the last week of class,” he said.

In preparation for the weekend, Sabrina Dias, sophomore biological sciences major and ASUCD Outreach Assembly speaker, recommends students buy the $5 Safeboats fundraiser package, which consists of a glow stick, sunglasses and chapstick, to raise money for the cost of the service. The Greek houses are also competing for a pre-houseboats breakfast by attempting to raise the most money in a coin drive.

Swinhoe said that although everyone attending Houseboats can use Safeboats, the Greek community and ASUCD are the only ones who fundraise for the event. According to Swinhoe, the 17 social fraternities from the IFC and nine sororities from the Pan-Hellenic Council each donated up to $500 to the fund.

Dias said Safeboats has been used extensively in the past, and not just by UC Davis students.

“It saves lives, essentially. This event would still go on [without Safeboats and] it would just be 10 times more dangerous,” Dias said.

Swinhoe said there were a lot more accidents last year, because the water level was so high. He also used the Safeboats services for a cut that was bleeding profusely.

“Last year, one of the guys on my boat twisted his ankle. Safeboats gave him ice and wrapped it up,” Swinhoe said.

Houseboaters can identify the Safeboat by the uniformed Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) wearing a uniform and the lighted beacon at night. There will be six EMTs and two field-training officers.

“It’s not always convenient to find a hospital, and with Safeboats, everything that happens on the lake is treated immediately,” Dias said.

Swinhoe said houseboaters should bring lots of food, water and sunscreen, and to use Safeboats.

“Don’t bring your phone because that will get lost and broken. Bring a walkie-talkie in a bag to keep in touch with your friends,” he said.

As a way to ensure houseboaters party safely, the health center held a first aid presentation Wednesday, which included a safe sex presentation from the Gender and Sexuality Committee. Today, there will also be an alcohol risk reduction presentation from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Wellman 126 open to all. Swinhoe advises houseboaters stay with friends, and not go on unfamiliar boats.

“Make sure you’re on a boat with people that you know and trust,” Swinhoe said.

GRACE BENEFIELD can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

Safe Partying Tips for Houseboats

Houseboating is all good and fun,
until somebody gets hurt by falling off the third story of a boat. To
make sure everyone has a safe and good time, The California Aggie has
compiled a list of safety tips for HB2K11. Remember guys: it’s a
marathon, not a sprint.

Driving a boat while intoxicated is the same
as driving a car drunk – don’t do it
Don’t wander off by yourself or onto
random boatsEat and drink water constantly – beer does not count as
Don’t jump from boat to boat or off the third story of boats.
Really though, it might kill you.Bring water shoes ($7 at Walmart)
swim from one island to another – you probably won’t make it there or
Don’t use your houseboat’s generator overnight because of potential
carbon monoxide poisoning


  1. I thought ASUCD Senator Rebecca Sterling worked really hard to put a lot of this together! Why wasn’t she quoted in the article, Aggie? 🙁


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