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Water Safety Tips For Summer Recreation  


  • Be honest with yourself when evaluating your skills and the skills of others in your party. You will have a safer and more enjoyable trip if you choose sections of the river that match your ability
  • Check the current water levels before embarking on a trip. The difficulty level of certain sections of river can change dramatically with changes in water levels. At extremely low levels, you may find yourself paddling through puddles, dragging watercraft over rocks, or portaging.
  • Know your physical ability, swimming skills, and paddling skills. If you are uncertain about how much you can do, start with a short trip.


  • Sun Protection such as hats, sunscreen, light weight long sleeve shirt and pants
  • First Aid Kit
  • Plenty of food and water
  • Life Vests
  • Map of the area


  • Wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket at all times. Even gentle stretches of water can have wicked undercurrents. Even good swimmers need to wear a life jacket.
  • Never boat alone. A preferred minimum is three boats
  • Know your limits; do not attempt a section of the river beyond your skill level.
  • Scout rapids and make resuce plans if needed. Be aware that on some sections of the river, land access may be difficult and help is far away.
  • Pay attention to weather and water conditions. Wear wool clothing or a wet suit and dress for the water temperature. If the water temperature and air temperature combined total 100 degrees or less, wear protective clothing.
  • Learn basic water rescue techniques and first aid. Learn to recognize the symptoms and treatment for heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke.
  • If you capsize, hold on to your craft and get immediately to the upstream side. Float on your back, feet together and pointed downstream. If you go over a ledge or drop, tuck in a ball. Release your craft only if it improves your safety. Stay upstream away from the boat.
  • Carry the proper equipment including dry clothing and a first aid kit. Store all extra gear in a secure water tight container.


  • Don't mix alcohol and swimming. Alcohol impairs your judgement, balance, and coordination, affects your swimming and diving skills, and reduces your body's ability to stay warm.
  • Know and be aware of river signs, both natural and man-made, such and sandbars, rocks, undercuts, horizon lines across the river--like a low head dam, a significant rapid, and "strainers" or "snags" (trees in the river). As water levels fluctuate seasonally and daily the visibility of hazards in the water varies.
  • Your skills and experience have to equal the river and its conditions.
  • Stay away from canals and dams--currents and undertows hide beneath the surface.

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