Water Safety Tips for the Fourth of July Weekend

When temperatures heat up under the summer sun, families know to head for the water. While California’s beaches, rivers and lakes offer a great escape for the summer heat, they can also be dangerous if certain precautions are not taken such as wearing a life jacket, swimming only in designated areas, and actively supervising children.  

It is important for everyone to play it safe and follow the following guidelines: 

Wear a life jacket 

Everyone should wear a properly fitted US. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when in or near the water. Don’t have a life jacket? Borrow one for free at one of over 100 life jacket loaner stations throughout the state. Check out this video on how to properly select and put on a life jacket.  

Swim in designated areas 

Swim only in lifeguard-protected beaches and obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Not all beaches along the California coastline are recommended for swimming or wading. Observe all warning signs posted at park units. 

Actively supervise children 

Actively supervise children in and around water, giving them their undivided attention. Appoint a designated adults “water watcher,” taking turns with other adults and letting children know who that water watcher is. Teach them that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool: they need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather.  

Never turn your back on the ocean 

The ocean is very powerful and large waves can hit the shore without warning, surging further up the beach than normal waves. The backwash can knock you off your feet and drag both children and adults into deep water.  

Watch out for rip currents 

Rip currents can occur at any beach with breaking waves or where there is a stream or outflow into the surfline. These are powerful, channeled currents of water flowing away from shore. They typically extend from the shoreline, through the surf zone, and past the line of breaking waves. If caught in a rip current, stay calm and don’t fight the current. Escape the current by swimming parallel to shore.  

Don’t get caught by the “rogue wave” or “sleeper wave” 

The “rogue wave” or “sleeper wave” can be unpredictable waves, which may occur even on days when most of the surf looks small and unspectacular.  Use caution when climbing on rocks and cliffs, playing near or in the surf, or shore fishing.  

For additional safety tips, please visit www.parks.ca.gov/SafetyTips. May you have a safe and fun Fourth of July holiday weekend. #RecreateResponsibly 

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