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California State Parks Safety Tips

Boating Safety | Life Jackets | Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Safety | Summer Heat Resources | Campfire Safety | Wildlife | Media Downloads 

 

Spring River Safety Tips

  • Don’t enter the water if it’s too cold. The average body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The average pool temperature is 84 to 86 degrees. Some of California’s rivers are currently running at temperatures between 30 to 40 degrees. Such cold temperatures can literally take your breath away.
  • Cold-water immersion is dangerous. Not wearing a life jacket while recreating in cold water makes it even more perilous.
  • Jumping into cold water can cause many life-threatening effects, including: • An involuntary gasp for air when you’re under water which can lead to panic and start the drowning process. It can even trigger cardiac arrest, temporary paralysis and hypothermia.
  • Cold water entering the ear canal can cause vertigo and disorientation. This may confuse swimmers, causing them to venture deeper into the water.
  • Reduces body heat 25 to 30 times faster than air does at the same temperature, and causes impairment that can lead to fatalities. 


Below are some other do’s and don’ts for cold water immersion:

  • Do not panic if you fall into the water.
  • Do control breathing. Do not gasp for air. A sudden unexpected fall into cold water causes an involuntary gasp (or torso) reflex. It takes less than ½ cup of water in a person’s lungs to drown. When someone remains calm, he/she has a greater chance of self-rescue.
  • If you are in a boat and it capsizes, stay with your boat. Try to climb on top. It will help you stay afloat and will be seen more easily by rescuers.
  • Stay afloat with the help of a life jacket and regain control of breathing.
  • If you find yourself in the river, aggressively swim downstream to the shore. Do not swim against the current. This uses energy very quickly and nobody can swim upstream in swift current.
  • If possible, remove heavy shoes. Look for ways to increase buoyancy such as seat cushions or an ice chest.
  • If you do fall into a river without a life jacket on, watch this video to help you survive.

Wear a Life Jacket

  • Conditions change quickly in open water and even the best swimmers can misjudge the water and their skills when boating or swimming. Wearing a properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket can increase survival time.
  • Anyone within 20 ft. of water should be wearing a life jacket in case of an unexpected fall. This is especially true with children.
  • A life jacket can also provide some thermal protection against the onset of cold water shock and keep you afloat until someone else can rescue you.
  • Need a life jacket? Check online to find a life jacket loaner station for a day or weekend use.
  • Please observe all rules and only swim/jump/dive into designated areas.
  • Rocks, cliffs, piers, etc. are not approved for jumping and diving from. Rangers and lifeguards have seen an increased number of severe injuries and fatalities related to jumping in unauthorized areas.
  • Hazzards can be hidden undernath the water's surface, even in familair waters. Please exercise extreme caution when in and around the water.
  • 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 CLICK HERE
  • Most California rivers are fed by the mountain snowpack, so they are cold year around. Even on warm, sunny days, rafters and paddlers must be prepared to deal with the water temperatures. The dangers increase as water temperatures decrease below normal body temperature.
  • Using pool toys in open water, lakes and rivers is dangerous. They may be made to resemble canoes or whitewater rafts, but they are often made of thin plastic, are easily punctured and usually have only one air inlet. Pool toys are not made for navigation and are difficult to maneuver and steer.
  • DBW offers whitewater enthusiasts informative safety videos online. The dangers of high, fast and cold water safety.
  • Swimming in open water is more difficult than in a swimming pool – people tire more quickly and can get into trouble.
  • Many unseen obstacles can be lurking below the water’s surface - this is especially the case with high runoff following years of drought. Drought-stricken forests and storm-driven landslides have filled rivers with submerged trees and rocks. Swift water can make these obstacles even more treacherous. DBW recommends guided trips for inexperienced paddlers. 
  • Actively supervise children in and around open bodies of water, giving them your undivided attention. Do not assume that someone is watching them. Appoint a designated “water watcher,” taking turns with other adults. Let the children know who is the designated “water watcher”.
  • Teach children 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.
  • File a float plan with someone trusted that includes details about the trip, including:
    • launch area
    • marina
    • boat/vessel information
    • names of passengers
    • towing or trailer vehicle information
    • communication equipment
    • emergency contacts

Spring 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.

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.

Hiking Safety

  • Use the “buddy system” – hike with a friend or family member.
  • Drink and carry plenty of water (a minimum of 1 quart every 2 hours).
  • Wear sturdy comfortable shoes to help prevent injury.
  • Tell a responsible person back at camp or at home where you are going and when you plan on returning.
  • Stay on established trails. Do not walk off-trail or enter closed areas.
  • Our state parks are home to a variety of wildlife. Help us keep these animals wild by viewing them from a safe distance. Never feed or touch wildlife. Do not approach or attempt to move sick or injured wildlife. Please report any encounters with aggressive, sick or injured animals to a park ranger.
  • Snakes – always know where you are stepping.  If you have to traverse a log that has fallen across the trail, first step up onto the log then step down once you know the coast is clear, rather than just stepping over the log. Be cautious when climbing rocks or picking up firewood.  If you see a snake, maintain a distance of 6 feet. Most bites occur when people get too close or try to touch them.  Some gear you could consider using are
  • Tick populations are expected to rise this season. Take the following precautions to avoid them:
    • Walk in the middle of trails
    • Use insect repellent
    • Tuck your pants into your socks
    • After taking off gear always check for hitch-hiking ticks
    • Always do a “tick-check” with the help of a friend

For more information 
CLICK HERE

Backpacking Safety

  • Be prepared – backpacking requires careful planning before heading into the wilderness.
  • Speak to a Ranger or Park Staff at the visitor center for current trail conditions, weather forecast, and reliability of water sources.
  • Drink and carry plenty of water (a minimum of 1 quart every 2 hours).
  • 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 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
CLICK HERE

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
CLICK HERE

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
CLICK HERE