Swift Water Safety: Take Precautions this Holiday Weekend


As Californians across the state begin to prepare for the holiday weekend and with warmer weather, many local lakes, rivers and streams will have above-average water levels. 

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

Melting snow flowing into waterways can add to the volume and speed of the water. This water may also be extremely cold and dangerous to swim in, even for the most experienced swimmers. 

In addition, swift water can conceal dangers lurking below the surface that you may not see, or carry debris such as 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 when needed. 

There are a few steps you can take to stay safe around swift water, so a fun day out doesn’t turn into a potential 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 from snow melt runs cold, 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, your loved ones and community remain safe.