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Lakes and Rivers Safety Tips

Here are some tips for staying safe while swimming in lakes, rivers, or other open-water areas:

  • Learn to swim.  The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim--this includes adults and children.
  • Select a supervised area. A trained lifeguard who can help in an emergency is the best safety factor. Even good swimmers can have an unexpected medical emergency in the water.
  • Never swim alone.
  • Select an area that is clean and well maintained.
  • Select an area that has good water quality and safe natural conditions.  Murky water, hidden underwater objects, unexpected drop-offs, and aquatic plant life are hazards. Water pollution can cause health problems for swimmers.
  • Strong tides, big waves, and currents can turn an event that began as fun into a tragedy.
  • Make sure the water is deep enough before entering headfirst.  Too many swimmers are seriously injured every year by entering headfirst into water that is too shallow. A feet-first entry is much safer than diving.
  • Be sure rafts and docks are in good condition.  A well-run open-water facility maintains its rafts and docks in good condition, with no loose boards or exposed nails.
  • Never swim under a raft or dock.
  • Always look before jumping off a dock or raft to be sure no one is in the way.
  • Avoid drainage ditches and arroyos.  Drainage ditches and arroyos for water run-off are not good places for swimming or playing in the water. After heavy rains, they can quickly change into raging rivers that can easily take a human life. Even the strongest swimmers are no match for the power of the water. Fast water and debris in the current make ditches and arroyos very dangerous.