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Dinkey Creek photo USDA US Forest Service M. Napoletano

Water/Boating Safety On The Sierra National Forest

CLOVIS Hot summer weather has arrived, prompting many of us to get out and enjoy the rivers, streams and lakes on the Sierra National Forest.

These waterways continue to be fed by the melting snows over the high Sierra. The Upper Kings, San Joaquin, and Merced rivers continue to run with swift and extremely cold water, while Bass, Shaver, Huntington and many other lakes on the forest will be filled with the cold snow-fed waters from many streams and creeks.

As inviting as the water seems on a hot summer day, it can also be very dangerous. Cold water can cause hypothermia to set in quickly and overwhelm even the strongest of swimmers, and the public is warned to always be wary of the waterways this time of year.

With the high degree of tree mortality on the forest, boaters and others enjoying recreation on the lakes need to be vigilant for surface and potentially submerged debris. When boating, be sure that there are enough flotation devices (life jackets) for all on board, and that they’re in good condition and easy for all to access.

Do not operate the craft while under the influence, and be aware of other boaters, water skiers, and swimmers enjoying the lakes.

Be cautious anytime you or your family are near rivers, lakes and streams. While water may appear warm or slow moving, there are sometimes strong currents moving below the surface.

It is important to take care when walking on slippery surfaces around or even in the water. A slippery and uneven river bottom combined with the river’s swift current can cause you to lose your balance and sweep you downstream, not to mention debris or other potential underwater hazards.

Here are a few additional tips to follow, for you to recreate in or around water on the Sierra NF responsibly;

  • Check river, lake, and stream conditions before heading out on your adventure and always let someone know where you are going and when you will return. It is always recommended to visit the forest at least in pairs.
  • Check boating regulations for the lake and be sure that the boat operator is experienced.
  • Wear a properly fitting personal flotation device (life jacket) for all river, lake and boating activities. Don’t assume you have the swimming skills to keep you afloat; even the strongest swimmers must not be a match for these water conditions.
  • Inquire about swimming regulations. At some recreation sites swimming is not recommended or may even be prohibited. Obey “No Swimming” signs.
  • Be aware that cell phone coverage is not available across the entire forest. Check to see if you can contact emergency providers from where you are recreating.
  • Where allowed, choose swimming areas carefully. Often hazards are not visible in what may seem like a good place to swim or wade.
  • When near rapids or other moving water, always stay on the established trails or developed areas.
  • Keep a close watch on children even if they are far from the water. Water safety for children is especially important as they can quickly enter the water when your attention is diverted for only a moment
  • Don’t walk, play or climb on slippery rocks and logs near rivers and streams.
  • Don’t swim or wade upstream from a waterfall, even if the water appears shallow or calm.
  • Be cautious of sudden drop offs.

For more tips on swimming safely in rivers, lakes and streams go to the following link provided by the American Red Cross. Water safety/Lake-river safety.

For more tips on boating safely follow the National Safety Council’s link on boating. Boating Knowledge and safety.

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