Lake Pleasant, AZ – Fourth of July celebrations at Lake Pleasant can include fireworks, barbecues and maybe even a little boating.

But there are holiday risks such as inhaling lethal doses of carbon monoxide, being arrested for being intoxicated or drowning, officials said.

To help boaters celebrate in safety, the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Peoria Fire Department conducted a water-safety program this week at Lake Pleasant, where a man drowned June 23.

“The Fourth of July weekend is going to be packed, so if we can get safety education out there, it might prevent some fatalities and some people showing up in court after doing some stupid things,” said Lex Anderson, a Youngtown magistrate and former Lake Pleasant Justice Court judge who helped organize the day.

As children tried on life jackets and played on the dock by the 10-lane boat ramp, Peoria firefighters displayed the silent and deadly nature of carbon monoxide. Engineer Tim Castellanos used a monitor to measure the amount of carbon monoxide released by an idling cigarette boat moored at the dock.

Castellanos said he measured carbon monoxide levels of 200 to more than 400 parts per million.

“Over 200 is a significant exposure,” he said.

A person swimming near the gas or in an area with concentrated levels of carbon monoxide can become unconscious and drown, said Capt. Matt Russell of the Peoria Fire Department. Boats do not have catalytic converters and therefore release more carbon monoxide than cars, he said.

Game and Fish employees also encouraged boaters to stay sober and educate themselves on maritime rules before launching their vessel.

“The two major reasons for boat accidents are boater inexperience and inattention,” said Kevin Bergersen, a boating law administrator and law enforcement programs coordinator with Game and Fish.

The most important rule is to always wear a life jacket, Bergersen said. About 70 percent of those who die in boating accidents drown, and about 80 percent of them are not wearing life jackets, Bergersen said. “It’s about safety,” said Kriselle Colvin, an officer with Game and Fish. “People think we’re out there to get them and ruin their day, but we want to protect them.”