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The City of Portland, Oregon

Fire & Rescue

Always Ready, Always There

Phone: 503-823-3700

Fax: 503-823-3710

55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204

More Contact Info

Safety on the River


Local swimming pools, rivers and lakes are a popular way to keep cool during Portland summers. But, before you hit the water, Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) reminds the community to plan ahead and think safety.

Below are tips for staying safe while swimming in lakes, rivers, or other open-water areas:

  • Learn to swim. The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim--this includes adults and children.
  • Select a supervised area. A trained lifeguard who can help in an emergency is the best safety factor. Even good swimmers can have an unexpected medical emergency in the water.
  • Never swim alone.
  • Select an area that is clean and well maintained.
  • Select an area that has good water quality and safe natural conditions. Murky water, hidden underwater objects, unexpected drop-offs, and aquatic plant life are hazards. Water pollution can cause health problems for swimmers.
  • Strong tides, big waves, and currents can turn an event that began as fun into a tragedy.
  • Make sure the water is deep enough before entering headfirst. Too many swimmers are seriously injured every year by entering headfirst into water that is too shallow. A feet-first entry is much safer than diving.
  • Be sure rafts and docks are in good condition. A well-run open-water facility maintains its rafts and docks in good condition, with no loose boards or exposed nails.
  • Never swim under a raft or dock.
  • Always look before jumping off a dock or raft to be sure no one is in the way.

Remember, all children 12 and younger must wear a life vest when in a boat underway. 90% of Oregon's boating fatalities occur because the victim wasn't wearing a life jacket. For information on choosing a life jacket and wearing it properly, click here.

 Portland Fire & Rescue

 We Respond: Always Ready, Always There

 August 22, 2011


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