Swift Water Safety: Take Precautions to Keep Your Family Safe Near Local Waterways


As the weather warms up following heavy snowfall in the mountains, many local lakes, river and streams could see above average water levels this spring and summer.

The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) wants to remind all Californians about the importance of being swift water safe.

Melting snow that flows into waterways can add to the volume and speed of the water. This water will also be extremely cold. This fast-moving water can be dangerous to swim in, even for the most experienced swimmers.

In addition, swift water can carry dangers lurking below the surface that you may not see. Swift water can carry debris including tree branches that can trap you underwater.

Through the California Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System, Cal OES works with local government fire agencies to train highly specialized swift water teams that can respond if needed.

There are a few steps you can take to stay safe around swift water so a fun day out doesn’t turn into an emergency.

  • Never swim alone or jump in after someone who has fallen in. Always bring a friend or someone who can call for help if needed.
  • Remember, swift water is snow melt so just a few minutes in this water can incapacitate you.
  • Most importantly, always wear a lifejacket.

It’s best to stay out of swift water but if you are going outdoors this summer, taking a few steps now to prepare can help ensure you and your family remain safe.