Cold Water Dangers


As weather warms up with record snowpack in the Sierras, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) would like to remind everyone to take extra precautions and be aware of cold-water dangers this spring. Snowmelt-fed streams and rivers flow faster, are deeper and are very cold; they will literally take your breath away.

Cold Water Safety Tips:

  • Do not enter cold, fast-running water. Snowmelt-fed waterways can induce cold shock and stun even the strongest swimmers.
  • Unseen obstacles can lurk below the water’s surface, such as branches, rocks and other debris. Swift water can make these obstacles even more treacherous.
  • Sudden immersion in cold water can stimulate the “gasp reflex,” causing an involuntary inhalation of air or water and can start the drowning process immediately.
  • Never enter the water to rescue a victim. Throw something that floats and call 9-1-1.
  • Never swim alone.
  • Actively supervise children in and around open bodies of water, giving them your undivided attention.

Boating Safety Tips:

  • Make sure you have the right safety equipment on board your boat such as life jackets, flares, navigation lights, a horn or whistle, and a first aid kit.
  • Email/text a float plan to a loved one or friend with details of your trip in the event of an emergency.
  • Everyone should wear a properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when in or near the water.
  • Avoid Alcohol: Do not drink and boat.