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Public Health - Seattle & King County

River safety

Rivers are inherently dangerous places to recreate. The water can be high, swift and cold as mountain snowpack melts, making staying in control and hypothermia real risks. Logs and rocks, both visible and hidden, pose navigation hazards. Rivers are dynamic systems that change constantly.

Wear a lifejacket. Because nobody plans to drown.

River users are encouraged to take safety precautions when recreating in rivers. Here are tips to stay safe:

  • Wear a PFD (personal flotation device).
  • Do not use alcohol or drugs when recreating on the river.
  • Watch children closely when they are on or near any type of water; stay close enough to reach them immediately.
  • Choose safer swimming options with lifeguards present, such as a beach, lake or pool.

When planning a boating or floating trip:

  • Always tell someone your route and when and where you expect to put in and take out.
  • Have a back-up plan for emergency contact in case your trip is cut short by an unforeseen obstacle or emergency.
  • Never float the river alone and, if possible, make sure there is at least one oared craft in your group in case a rescue is needed.
  • Bring a dry bag with food, water, and warm clothes.

River safety topics: