Water Safety

Life Looks Good on You - Wear your life jacket on the river this summer

Summer is here and the river is calling your name. It’s time to grab your friends and head out to the water. Visiting Sacramento County public waterways, rivers and lakes is such an excellent way to cool off and enjoy the outdoors.

Life Looks Good on You! Drowning Doesn’t

Life Looks Good on You and so does a life vest. Before you dive in, put on a life vest. If you don't have one, there are borrowing stations along Sacramento’s waterways and at local fire stations. Snap a quick pic or selfie with #SacRivers. ​

​​​​​​​Don’t look bad making excuses

We know, we have heard them all before...

  • They are uncomfortable
  • They are not cool
  • I am a great swimmer, I don’t need one

Even the strongest swimmer can be pulled under. Stopping by a free life vest borrowing station before you hit the water protects you from drowning - which is not such a great look.

Borrow Life​​ Vests for kids

Whether you are swimming, fishing, boating, floating or just wading, you should always wear a life vest. You can borrow a life vest at any of the many borrowing stations along Sacramento’s public waterways. It’s the law for kids under 13 and It could help save your life.
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. There are 11 life vest stations in the Sacramento area.  Learn more about the Kids Don't Float program.

Life vest borrowing stations on the American River Parkway:

  • Discovery Park (2 sites) (kids and adults)
  • Ancil Hoffman Park(kids only)
  • Howe Avenue river access(kids only)
  • Paradise Beach (kids only)
  • Watt Avenue river access (kids only)
  • River Bend Park (kids only)
  • El Manto Access (kids and adults)​
  • Sunrise river access (kids only)

Life Vest Station in the City of Sacramento: ​Sand Cove (kids only)

Each station offers 8 to 12 life vests in adult and kid sizes and are also available at several Sacramento a​rea fire stations.

More Tips for Staying Safe Around Public Waterways

  • Everyone should wear a life jacket - Whether you are fishing, boating, swimming, floating or just wading, wear a properly fitting jacket.      
  • Read about the mandatory life preserver ordinance for children 13 and under in public waterways.  [SCO 13.08.301 (a)]
    • The "Kids Don't Float" life preserver loaner program provides jackets for temporary use at the following points: Ancil Hoffman Park, Discovery Park (two locations), Sand Cove, Howe Avenue, Paradise Beach, Sunrise and Watt Avenue Accesses.  They are also available at several Sacramento  Metro Fire Stations.
  • The California Division of Boating and Waterways also has a statewide life jacket loaner program for adults and children with 11 outlets in our area reaching from El Dorado Hills to West Sacramento and from Rio Vista to Loomis.
  • Learn how to swim - Even with life jackets, it is important to know how to swim
  • Even strong swimmers can run in to trouble and should follow these guidelines. 
  • Stay out of deep water - Riverbeds can drop off sharply. Stay close to shore to avoid drop-offs and currents
  • Watch out for hazards - Murky river water can hide logs, sharp rocks or trash that can cut your feet. It is recommended that you wear shoes
  • Don't follow your equipment downstream - Never risk your life to save equipment or belongings
  • Stay with your boat - Stay with your capsized boat unless it is unsafe to do so and/or it becomes safe to swim
  • Obey the signs - Read any signs you may see in the area before you enjoy any type of recreation
  • Alcohol, drugs and water sports don't mix
  • Wear sunscreen - Spending all day at the river can give you a painful sunburn. Be sure to wear SPF 15 or better and reapply frequently
  • Don't get too tired! - People, especially children, can make unsafe choices when they are too tired
  • Never use rope swings or jump off bridges - No matter how deep the water is, these activities can result in serious injury or death
  • Watch out for hypothermia - If you experience excessive shivering or fatigue, get out of the water at once
  • Keep an eye on children - Never leave children unattended near water
  • Respect the plant and animal inhabitants - Do not bother animals, and watch out for stinging insects and poison oak
  • How to help someone in trouble - Yell "Help" to draw attention. Reach towards the person with a pole, branch or paddle, or throw out a life jacket or ice chest to help them stay afloat until they are able to get to shore or help arrives​​
  • Follow healthy water habits - Actively supervise children and pets in or near water; Avoid algae blooms (brightly colored water) and trash in the water; People with immuno-suppressive diseases should avoid direct contact with the river; Wash hands/shower after swimming; and DO NOT drink river water, cook or wash dishes with river/lake water, change diapers in or near water, swim when you are sick, enter the water if you have cuts or open sores as these are pathways for bacteria to enter your body, or enter the water for several days after a significant rainstorm as storm flows spike bacteria levels.​​​​