Swimming Safety Tips



  • Wear a life jacket for any aquatic activity such as boating or swimming.
  • Observe rules and only swim in designated areas.
  • Do not enter the water if it’s too cold—some of California’s rivers run at temperatures between 30 and 40 degrees, which can literally take your breath away. Also, jumping into cold water can cause life-threatening effects, including an involuntary gasp for air when you’re under water, cardiac arrest, temporary paralysis, hypothermia and vertigo and disorientation when the cold water enters the ear canal.
    • If you do find yourself in cold water.
  • Do not panic.
  • Used controlled breathing; do not gasp for air.
  • Do not allow children into the water without an adult. 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.
  • Know your limits by keeping in mind and teaching children that swimming in open water can be more difficult and taxing than in a pool.
  • Use the buddy system with swimming.
  • Never turn your back to the ocean––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. Click here for more information about ocean safety.
  • Never dive headfirst into the water––you may hit hidden rocks or the shallow bottom, resulting in serious injury, paralysis or death.
  • Swim only in lifeguard-protected beach and obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards.
  • If caught in a rip current, stay calm and don’t fight the current. Escape the current by swimming parallel to shore. When free of the current, swim away from the rip at an angle toward shore. If you feel you will be unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by facing the shore and calling and waving for help.



  • Observe rules and only dive in designated areas. Rocks, cliffs, piers, etc., are not approved for jumping and diving from.
  • Hazards can be hidden underneath the water’s surface, even in familiar waters. Exercise extreme caution.
  • Dive to your ability, training and experience level.
  • Check the actual diving and weather conditions as well as underwater visibility and currents.
  • Always dive with a buddy and have an emergency plan you have agreed on with your buddy.
  • Know your entry and exit points.
  • Plan your dive and dive your plan!

For more information about diving safety, visit the Divers Alert Network website and the State Parks website.