City reminds residents about river safety

City of Naperville
Updated 7/27/2011 9:31 AM

Residents Reminded to Take Precautions to Ensure Their Health and Safety

With the East Branch of the DuPage River at a high level due to this weekend's excessive rains, the City of Naperville would like to remind residents to be safe in and around bodies of water. Residents are advised to talk with their families and children about water safety in a variety of situations and remind them to stay away from the DuPage River when its water levels are high.

While most people believe that they are seasoned swimmers, boaters or kayakers, when the weather brings the river to dangerous levels, the best advice is to stay out of the water. Water that appears calm on the surface may have a current below the surface, and dangerous debris such as logs or rocks will not be easily seen. River safety tips include:

• Do not underestimate the power of an unseen current.

• If you are caught in a current and are being swept away, roll over on your back and go downstream feet first to avoid hitting your head.

• When you are out of the strongest part of the current, swim straight towards shore.

• Don't try to swim against a current if caught in one.

• Swim gradually out of the current by swimming across it.

Even if a person is just enjoying the river from its bank, the water can be dangerous. River levels can change drastically, depending on rainfall, making passage and maneuverability in the water more difficult. If participating in water activities, a U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation device (PFD) should always be worn. Illinois law states that all children under the age of 13 must wear a PFD on vessels less than 26 feet in length. Below are tips in mind when fitting yourself or your child in a life jacket:

• Life jackets are not like clothes. You don't grow into them.

• Life jackets should be Coast Guard approved and the correct size for your weight.

• Life jackets should fit snugly. The shoulders of the jacket should not come up above the nose or ears when pulled up or it will not stay on in the water.

• If your child's weight exceeds available children's sizes, you must purchase an adult-sized life jacket for them.

• Remember, children don't float, but life jackets do.

A hydraulic is a strong force created by water flowing downward over an object, then reversing its flow. The reverse flow of the water can trap and hold a person under the water. If you are caught in a hydraulic, do not fight it - swim to the bottom and then swim out with the current to reach the surface. Also make note of the dangerous "toos" before engaging in summer water activities. These include being too tired, too cold, too far from safety, having too much sun, too much to drink and participating in too much strenuous activity.

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