Ready to head to local rivers or the Delta for some cool summer fun? Make sure you are practicing safe social distancing.
California State Parks and the Division of Boating and Waterways are asking water enthusiasts to have fun responsibly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As State Parks and other park operators begin to increase access at parks and waterways in compliance with state and local public health ordinances, it is important for everyone to know how and where they can recreate, who they can go boating with, and how the use of life jackets continues to be life-saving.
“During COVID-19, it’s critical for water enthusiasts to limit the unnecessary risk not only to themselves, but to other Californians, law enforcement and first responders,” acting DBW deputy director Ramona Fernandez said. “For National Safe Boating Week this year, we’re highlighting ways Californians can prepare themselves to enjoy waterways close to home and maintain the important physical distance from others.”
It’s also vitally important that anyone enjoying water recreation wear a life jacket, the DBW noted.
Below are some COVID-19 and safety tips for this year’s boating and water season:
Visit the website of your local waterway before leaving home to find out if it is open, if parking is available or if any new visitor guidelines are in place. Take a boating safety course to learn the “rules of the road” for boating.
Stay close to home. Do not take road trips to California’s waterways or neighboring states. We all have the responsibility to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Boat only with your household
Your party should only include those within your immediate household. This means no guests or friends, and no gatherings, picnics or parties.
Conduct a vessel check
Make sure you have the right safety equipment on board your boat such as life jackets, flares, navigation lights, a horn or whistle, and a first aid kit. Visit the DBW website for more information.
Not all restrooms at parks or boating facilities are open, so be prepared. Bring soap/sanitizer, especially for use after touching a marina gate or fuel pump. And always pack out your trash.
File a float plan
Email/text a float plan to a loved one or friend with details of your trip in the event of an emergency.
Wear a life jacket
Everyone should wear a properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when in or near the water. You never know when an accident may happen, and a life jacket can help save you until search and rescue help can arrive.
In swift water, even the strongest swimmers may be easily overwhelmed. By the time a person is struggling in the water, a rescue is extremely unlikely and places the rescuer at risk.
Stay safe at six feet
Maintain a physical distance of six feet or more from anyone not in your immediate household. Do not raft up to other boaters or pull up onto a beach next to others.
Actively supervise children
Actively supervise children in and around open bodies of water, giving them your undivided attention. Do not assume that someone is watching them. Appoint a designated “water watcher,” taking turns with other adults.
Teach children that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool. They need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather.
Be cautious in rivers
Even though this year’s snowpack is below average, rivers will continue to rise as snow melts and will be dangerously cold. Avoid these waterways.
And don't hit the water while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
For more water safety information, including boating laws and a boating facility locator on over 1,450 marinas and water-body managers, visit dbw.parks.ca.gov/BoatingSafety.
State Parks has developed a one-stop COVID-19 resource center at parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve. Please check this website regularly, as it will be updated with new information as it becomes available.