Rivers can offer a ton of opportunities for summer fun. Fishing, boating, kayaking, rafting, and other activities provide chances to create awesome memories that will be cherished for a lifetime. Of course, not all rivers are created equal, and some are safer to play in than others. But how do you identify those that are safe to play in and those that aren’t?
The currents in rivers can make playing in them extra fun, but they also add an additional level of danger. You should never swim in a river that has a current that moves faster than you can swim. Keep in mind that current speed can be different in different parts of the river. Areas where two rivers come together can cause significant changes in both the speed and direction of a current, making them especially hazardous. Avoid these areas and move to a safer location instead.
If the river you want to play in is on public land, there’s a good chance that the water and area has been tested for safety. The water may have been tested for dangerous contaminants, and the bottom and surrounding areas may have been tested for depth. Depending on the results of those tests, you may see signs indicating that certain activities are unsafe in that area. Those signs are posted for good reason, so make sure you pay attention to and follow them.
Just because some areas get tested doesn’t mean all areas do. Bacteria often make their homes in rivers, and slow moving rivers can easily play host to algae blooms. This can cause a lot of different health problems if any water is ingested, even by accident. You can purchase tests that you can use to determine how clean the water is. If the water isn’t clean, if you see a lot of algae, or if the area smells odd or off putting, your best bet is to find a different place to play.
Figuring out which rivers are safe for you to play in is an essential part of making sure you have a good time. Pay attention to the current speed, any posted signs, and how clean the water is in order to identify rivers that you can play in safely. No matter how good of a swimmer you are, it’s always best to make safety your first priority.
If you’re a non-swimmer, make sure to wear a life-jacket. This will help ensure that you’re being safe with those around you.
Swimming is tons of fun, but is inherently risky. Use our Open Water Safety Tips to help create a safer swimming environment no matter where you go.