SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–With the exceptional California snowpack melting as temperatures rise,
rivers and streams are full of dangerously cold and swift moving water
this spring. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) encourages water
enthusiasts to take extra precautions when in or near rivers, especially
around hydroelectric facilities and dams, where water flows can change
rapidly. Anglers are also encouraged to take precautions as trout season
opens April 27 for most California rivers.
California’s snowpack measured 175 percent of normal in early April,
ensuring cold runoff well into summer.
“Public safety is our highest priority. We encourage everyone recreating
in or near water to know at all times how they can quickly get out or
away. Put safety first, especially while outdoors,” said Debbie Powell,
PG&E’s vice president of power generation.
Most California rivers are fed by snowmelt, making them cold even in
summer. Simple actions such as knowing if the water is too cold or
swift, knowing your limits, wearing a life jacket or simply not entering
the water when conditions are deemed unsafe can save a life.
Below are some water safety tips:
Stay Out and Stay Alive – Stay Out of Canals and Flumes
Recreating in PG&E canals and flumes is strictly prohibited. Stay out
of these water conveyances, regardless of who owns them, as they are
very dangerous due to slippery sides and fast-moving cold water. For a
number of reasons, not all areas are open for recreation. Keep out of
canals and off elevated flumes. Be mindful of signs and warnings. Stay
out of areas that are signed as restricted, fenced off or buoy lined.
Know the Risks
Prevention is the best way to save a person from drowning. By the time
a person is struggling in the water, a rescue is extremely unlikely
and places the rescuer at risk.
Sudden immersion in cold water can stimulate the “gasp reflex,”
causing an involuntary inhalation of air or water. It can even trigger
cardiac arrest, temporary paralysis, hypothermia, and drowning. When
faced with swift water, even the strongest swimmers may be easily
Cold water entering the ear canal can cause vertigo and
disorientation. This may confuse swimmers, causing them to venture
deeper into the water.
Cold water also reduces body heat 25 to 30 times faster than air does
at the same temperature and causes impairment that can lead to
Learn About Self-Rescue Techniques
If you do fall into the water, here are some survival tips:
Don’t panic. Do control breathing, don’t gasp. A sudden unexpected
fall into cold water causes an involuntary gasp (or torso) reflex.
It takes less than ½ cup of water in a person’s lungs to drown.
When someone remains calm, they have a greater chance of
Stay with your boat. It will help you stay afloat and will be seen
more easily by rescuers. If it’s capsized, try to climb on top.
Stay afloat with the help of a life jacket, regain control of
breathing, and keep head above water in view of rescuers.
If possible, remove heavy shoes. Look for ways to increase
buoyancy such as seat cushions or an ice chest.
If you’re in the water with others, huddle together facing towards
each other to help everyone stay afloat and keep warm.
If you do fall into a river without a life jacket on, keep your
feet pointed downstream and turn onto your back.
If you fall into the water with waders on, roll onto the shore.
Wear a belt with waders.
- Don’t panic. Do control breathing, don’t gasp. A sudden unexpected
Know your Limits
Swimming in open water is more difficult than in a swimming pool –
people tire more quickly and can get into trouble.
Many unseen obstacles can be lurking below the water’s surface – this
is especially the case during spring and early summer snowmelt. Rising
water can make these obstacles even more treacherous. Guided trips for
inexperienced paddlers are recommended.
Wear a Coast Guard-approved Life Jacket
Conditions change quickly in open water and even the best swimmers can
misjudge the water and their skills when boating or swimming.
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. Use the buddy system and never swim alone.
PG&E owns and operates 96 reservoirs, many of which are open to boating
and fishing and offer facilities such as campgrounds, picnic areas, boat
launches, and kayak put in and take out points. Please visit www.pge.com/recreation
for information or to make online camping reservations. For information
about PG&E’s power generation public safety program, visit www.pge.com/hydrosafety
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E
Corporation (NYSE: PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas
and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San
Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of
the nation’s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and
Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/