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River and Lake Safety Tips

No one is Drown-Proof!

The Drowning Facts:

  • In California, drowning is a leading cause of injury death for children one through four years of age.
  • For every drowning, an additional five near drownings are treated in an emergency room.

Drownings usually occur silently and victims are often believed to be playing in the water.

Myth: Drowning victims call for help... WRONG
Fact: Drowning is suffocation in water, it's a silent death.

Myth: Drowning victims are alone when they go under... WRONG
Fact: Drownings occur in the middle of crowds. Drownings are often mistaken for play, as victims try to push themselves out of the water.

Myth: Drownings don't occur quickly... WRONG
Fact: Drownings can occur in as little as 20 seconds.

Myth: Victims are usually swimmers who went too far... WRONG
Fact: Drowning victims are usually poor swimmers or non-swimmers who never intended to enter the water.

Myth: Children are safe if they know how to swim and wear a personal floatation device... WRONG
Fact: Children can easily panic and forget what they've learned. No one is ever "drown-proof," not you nor your kids.

Myth: If my boat sinks I can always swim to shore... WRONG

Fact: Many people, including strong swimmers, can be overcome by hypothermia in cold water and drown. Cold water is dangerous, and the shoreline may be farther than it looks.

To Prevent Drownings in a River or Lake, you should:

  • Always supervise your children in and around water. Don't leave them alone, even for an instant!
  • Always wear a life jacket! California law requires anyone under 13 must wear a life jacket while on a boat.
  • Make sure the whole family learns to swim.
  • Never swim alone.
  • Learn CPR.
  • Look before you leap.
  • Drinking and swimming is just as dangerous as drinking and driving.

Kids don't float, life jackets do!

Keep these tips in mind when fitting yourself or your child in a life jacket:

  • Life jackets are not like clothes- you DON'T grow into them.
  • They should be Coast Guard-approved and the correct size for your weight.
  • Life jackets should fit snugly. The shoulders of the life jacket should not come up above the nose or ears when pulled up or it will not stay on in the water.
  • If your child's weight exceeds the children's sizes, you must purchase an adult-sized life jacket for them.
  • Life jackets are important, but they are never a substitute for adult supervision.

More information can be found on our Life Jacket Loan Program page.

For more information, feel free to contact our Community Services Division at (916) 859-4300 and check out the California Life Jacket Law and the Sacramento County Life Jacket Ordinance websites.

Back to: Community Services

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