Laboring the dog days of summer

Remember water safety this Labor Day weekend
By: Bill Sullivan, Associate Publisher
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Tips for a safe Labor Day weekend on the water:

Don’t excessively drink and swim.

Don’t leave children unattended.

Don’t be out there on your own.

Don’t swim if you don’t know how to.

Don’t enter swift moving water.

Don’t ignore your limitations.

Don’t over-indulge.

Do put on sunscreen.

Do drink a lot of water.

Do wear a life jacket.

Do be careful for others and yourself.

Do have a designated person to watch.

Do be cognizant of the environment around you.

Do have fun, but have common sense.

Labor Day, it’s the one holiday that indicates that the dog days of summer and fun in the sun are coming to a close. Although today, most students have already returned to school, the upcoming three-day weekend is a prime time to get outside and enjoy all the nature that Folsom is known as being so distinct in.

While many will be celebrating with family barbecues, late season camping trips or hikes, the waterways in our area are always a big draw for this upcoming holiday. Whether it’s kayaking or paddle boarding on Lake Natoma, taking a rafting excursion down the American River or floating on Folsom Lake, this region is abundant with opportunities to wet your craving for one final summer adventure.

Although local lake levels have dropped and outflow releases are slightly lower than those in the early summer months, it is important to remember the dangers that lay beneath the surface of our local waters. Areas that appear calm and harmless, still have rapid currents beneath, often known as “under tow,” and becoming trapped under water is not uncommon for swimmers that are unaware of this.

One of the most important pieces of recreational equipment for swimmers of all ages to have is a life jacket. While they are known for not being “cool” or “fashionable,” these devices can save a life and keep a fun day on the lake from becoming a tragedy in a matter of minutes.

Don’t have a life jacket? In Folsom, that excuse that is no longer valid as a reason for not wearing one or putting one on your children. Throughout the Folsom area, you will find access to free life jackets. Hanging off a large billboard as many local beaches, these devices are free to use. That’s a pretty fair price to pay when it comes to saving a life, not only for humans, but for paddling pets as well.

Area fire stations also offer fee life jacket rentals for those in need. Knowing that life jackets are costly and not always affordable to families, the Folsom Fire Department has offered this service for many years. Multiple sizes are available to use, just by visiting a local station prior to hitting the lake or river.

“We are fortunate to have lakes and rivers in our area for people to enjoy over the Labor Day weekend. It is so very important to wear a life jacket while enjoying our waterways,” said Folsom Fire Chief Felipe Rodriguez. “They are available to borrow at no charge and located at our State Parks locations or at Folsom Fire Station 35, 535 Glenn Drive.”

When it comes to river rescues, such incidents have been far and few this season in the Folsom area. A local incident in 2017 when a local teen lost his life while playing with friends is a vivid reminder of how quickly a day of fun can turn to a loss of life.

Earlier this summer, Folsom Fire Department performed a rescue near the Rainbow Bridge in which an adult swimmer had fallen and suffered an injury impairing his ability to swim. While this incident had a happy ending, not all of them will.

Those who wish to swim in waters with an added level of safety, waterways such as Nimbus Flat or Negro Bar have lifeguards stationed under the management of the California State Parks through Labor Day. Such is the case with many area beaches of Folsom Lake, including Beals Point, Granite Bay and others.  

The Sacramento State Aquatic Center is sure to be busy this weekend as many will spend their weekend in the sun there, renting boards, boats and more along with having plenty of eyes on their loved ones from the shoreline to ensure a safe outing.

In the event you witness someone who falls in the current, officials advise that the best thing to do is not lose sight of them and call 911 immediately. Jumping into the water in an effort to rescue them yourself could pose a double dose of danger, so make sure help is on the way first and foremost. The weekend ahead is a time for making great memories and taking the proper steps to being safe will ensure that.

“May the memories that are made during the upcoming weekend be of joy and happiness,” Rodriguez said. “Enjoy the holiday and be safe!”