Swift Water Safety Tips

Be on the lookout for swift water this summer. During and after heavy rains, the creeks, streams and rivers swell quickly. Fast moving water is strong.

Swift water can float a car off the road. It can float items around your property. And it can definitely float people. Here are some swift water safety tips to remember this summer.

Don't Play in Swift Water

For safety, don’t play in swift water or let your children play in it. When the weather gets warmer, it can be tempting for children to play in any water they find. But swift water can be dangerous for children, and adults too.

Don't Try to Swim Back or Stand Up

So what if you find yourself in swift water? Trying to get out of water that’s pulling you back in is no easy task. Even good swimmers can have trouble. If you want to get out of swift water, you have to go with the current. This means swimming, or floating, away from where you were. If floating, have your feet "down stream" or ahead of you to push off any objects or projectiles. Try to position yourself to move to shallow shore land or grab onto a tree to wait for rescue.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, “If you fall into fast-moving water, do not try to stand up. The force of the water will push you over and hold you under. Most drownings result from getting a leg or ankle caught in an underwater rock ledge, between boulders or snagged in tree limbs or other debris. Lay on your back with your feet pointing downstream and toes pointing up toward the surface. Always look downstream and be prepared to fend off rocks with your feet.”

If you’re with someone who is swept away by swift water, call 911 immediately. We are grateful for our local Glasgow Swift Water Rescue Team.

Always Wear a Life Jacket

Finally, wear a life jacket. Life jackets are important anytime you’re near water. But they’re especially helpful in swift water. A life jacket helps keep you afloat so you don’t get pulled underwater. It also makes it easier for a rescue. See our other article on life jacket safety.

Summer water activities are so much fun. Be aware of the nature of the water and where you are standing. Wear your life jacket. And enjoy the water this season, safely.

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