SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Following the drowning of a child at Discovery Park on Monday, people — especially those with children — may be wondering just how safe it is to swim in our local rivers.
Facing record high temperatures during this pandemic, Sacramentans are looking to head out for cheap, close places where they can cool off; and with several easily accessible bodies of water nearby, the region offers a lot of options.
While they fit the bill in most areas, rivers pose a risk mainly because of the river’s current and because there aren’t lifeguards on duty.
“It’s usually always calmer on the surface water, so the current is underneath that,” Sacramento County Park Ranger Sgt. Paul Nanfito told CBS13 in May 2019.
Rangers also warn that water temperatures are still potentially dangerous, saying hypothermia can still set in pretty quickly at 55 degrees. It’s a danger that can hit strong swimmers alike.
But how often do drownings occur? We asked Sacramento Sacramento County Regional Parks how many times recreational swimmers drowned at the park in recent years. Parks spokesperson Ken Casparis said he couldn’t give us park-specific information, but provided the following information about the area covered by the parks system, which is between Sunrise Boulevard and Discovery Park
*Not officially confirmed by the Sacramento County Coroner.
Casparis says increased messaging about river safety, as well as more life jackets being available, have helped to reduce drowning incidents. By law, children under the age of 13 are required to wear life jackets. Also, anyone operating a motorboat who is 25 or younger must now have a license from a boater safety course.
There are 11 life vest stations along the American River Parkway — two at Discovery Park — that offer life vests for kids and adults. In addition, the California Division of Boating and Waterways statewide life vest loaner program provides more than 2,000 new life vests a year, easily accessible children, for free.
You can find free life jackets to borrow from the division of boating and waterways here.