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River safety

Although fun and beautiful, rivers can be dangerous places. The water can be high, fast, and freezing cold as mountain snowpack melts. This can make staying in control and hypothermia real risks. Logs and rocks, both visible and hidden, pose hazards. River currents change often.

Important safety tips

River users should always take safety precautions when exploring. Here are tips to stay safe:

  • Wear a PFD (personal flotation device)
  • Do not use alcohol or drugs
  • Watch children and stay close enough to reach them immediately
  • Choose safer swimming options with lifeguards present, such as a beach, lake, or pool

Planning a boating or floating trip

  • Always tell someone your route and when and where you expect to put in and take out your boat
  • Have a back-up plan for an emergency contact in case of an unexpected obstacle or emergency
  • Never float the river alone and try to have at least one oared craft in your group in case of a needed rescue
  • Bring a dry bag with food, water, and warm clothes

Marta, the River Otter, shows us the right way to wear a lifejacket from King County DNRP on Vimeo.

Learn from Marta, the River Otter, the right way to wear a life jacket.