Swimming can be an enjoyable activity inside Texas’s state parks, but it’s also one that’s fraught with danger if safety warnings and tips are ignored. Anyone swimming in a state park should follow all safety warnings as well as these tips:
- Learn to swim, as formal lessons can help protect swimmers from drowning. Also, children swimming in lakes and rivers should wear life jackets.
- Closely supervise children, since it only takes a moment for a child to slip below the surface. Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental deaths among children.
- Be aware of your surroundings, since lakes, rivers and streams are natural environments. Watch for sudden drop offs, changing bottoms and unseen limbs, rocks, and other objects.
- Stay hydrated, and also take breaks, wear sunscreen, drink water and avoid alcohol.
- Never swim alone. Even experienced swimmers can get tired or experience muscle cramps. Having a buddy helps.
- Assess your skills. Avoid taking chances. If you do not know how to swim, stay out of the water, even with a raft or another flotation device.
- Swim only in designated areas. Park leaders make careful decisions about the safest and best places to swim.
Water can look calm on the surface, but be aware of currents under the surface. In a lake, river or ocean, underwater currents can put you in danger. If you are caught in a current, swim with it until conditions are calm enough for you to reach safety.
On the river
Be aware of changing conditions on a river, as swift currents from flash flooding can happen in an instant. If you notice the water rising, turning muddy or changing, then leave immediately.
Wind, tide and currents can contribute to water conditions. If you have questions or concerns about water safety, please ask park staff. If anyone is in danger, please contact a park ranger or call 911 immediately.
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