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California State Parks Safety Tips

Winter Safety Tips

Check Road Conditions and Site Destination Availability

  • Visitors may experience some limited closure facilities, trails, roads, campgrounds, etc. as department staff work to repair damage from storms, loods, mudslides, etc.
  • Visitors are advised to call their destinations ahead of time or visit California State Park’s webpage for availability. Road conditions and winter driving tips can be viewed online on Caltran’s website.

Check the Weather

  • Check both your destination's and your route's weather conditions before you leave.
  • Make sure your equipment is appropriate for the weather expected.
  • If heading to the snow, take tire chains.   

Parental Supervision

  • Actively supervise children in the outdoors, giving them your undivided attention.

Know the Water

  • Flood conditions can result in swift and cold river flows that can create treacherous conditions for all recreationists – waders, swimmers, paddlers, boaters, anglers and even hikers resting at the water’s slippery edge. Use precaution and do not enter hazardous conditions.
  • Many unseen obstacles can be lurking below the water’s surface. Years of drought have allowed trees and shrubs to grow in river beds and banks. If conditions seem hazardous, postpone your outing or find out if guided trips are available in your area. 
  • Cold water can be dangerous. It reduces body heat 25 to 30 times faster than air does at the same temperature. Cold water entering the ear canal can cause vertigo and disorientation. This may confuse swimmers, causing them to venture deeper into the water.
  • If you do decide to go boating, wear a properly-fitted life jacket. Conditions can change quickly in open water and even the best swimmers can misjudge the water and their skills when boating or swimming. Wearing a life jacket can increase survival time and provide some thermal protection against the onset of hypothermia. Most importantly, it can keep you afloat until someone else can rescue you.

SNO-PARKs

  • There are 19 SNO-PARKs in seven national forests.
  • Season runs November 1 to May 30. Day use fees are $5 per car and a season pass is $25.
  • Visitors have access to areas for general snow play and other activities like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice fishing. Some locations offer staging areas and access to groomed trails in National Forests for over-snow vehicles such as snowmobiles.
  • Visitation often exceeds parking capacity and facility amenities. Parking is on a first-come, first-served basis at all SNO-PARK sites. No refunds are issued if the SNO-PARK is full. Please be patient.
  • Safety tips:
    • Carry a shovel and tire chains.
    • Park in designated areas and drive carefully within SNO-PARK sites.
    • Watch for pedestrians.
    • Do not build campfires on paved areas.
    • Do not litter SNO-PARK sites. Take your trash with you when bins are full.

Hiking Safety

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Let someone back at camp or at home know where you are going and when you plan on returning.
  • Do not walk off-trail or enter closed areas.
  • Wildlife lives in all of our state parks, even near urban areas.
  • Hike with a friend or family member.

Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Safety

  • Always wear a helmet and goggles when riding off-highway vehicles.
  • Never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Ride only on designated trails and at a safe speed.
  • Supervise riders younger than 16; dirt bikes are not toys.
  • Never permit youngsters to ride dirt bikes that are too tall or too powerful for their capabilities.

Boating Safety

  • Wear a lifejacket for any aquatic activity such as boating.
  • Avoid alcohol when driving or riding on a boat.
  • Don’t swim near or under the back deck or swim platform while the boat motor is running. You can inhale Carbon Monoxide.
  • Keep your trash on board. Never throw cigarette butts, fishing line, or any other garbage into the ocean.
  • Use a phosphate-free soap to minimize the impacts of greywater on the marine environment. Also minimize discharge by doing dishes and showers on shore whenever possible.

For more information
http://dbw.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=28739

Sun Safety

  • Always wear sunscreen to protect from the sun (even on overcast days.)
  • Seek the shade, especially during the sun's peak hours (10:00am-4:00pm).
  • Cover up with clothing, especially a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.  Use long sleeve rash guards with a high SPF rating if you are on the beach or in the water.
  • Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet that includes vitamin supplements.
  • Examine your skin from head to toe once every month.
For more information
http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=24287

Swimming, Diving and Ocean Safety

  • Be sure to swim in areas with a staffed lifeguard tower.
  • Use the buddy system when swimming or diving.
  • Know your swimming and diving limits and abilities.
  • For diving, know your entry and exit points.
  • Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards.

For more information
http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=24009

Off-Highway Vehicle Safety

  • Always wear a helmet and goggles when riding off highway vehicles.
  • Never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Ride only on designated trails and at a safe speed.
  • Supervise riders younger than 16; dirt bikes are not toys.
  • Never permit youngsters to ride dirt bikes that are too tall or too powerful for their capabilities.
For more information
http://ohv.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=1234

Hiking Safety

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Let someone back at camp or at home know where you are going and when you plan on returning.
  • Don’t walk off-trail
  • Wildlife lives in all of our state parks, even near urban areas.
  • Hike with a friend or family member.

For more information
http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=24051