Canine Division

River Safety and Pool Safety
Life vest Wear It Sign

Life Vest: Wear It


River Safety: Courtesy of the National Park Service.

Planning for a safe river trip begins well before you get on the water and does not end until you return home. By following the steps and information listed below, you will better understand how to safely and comfortably enjoy the river.  Always Wear Your Life Jacket

Life vest Wear It Swimming Sign

Wear It Swimming

It’s smart to wear a life jacket-while boating, tubing, fishing, wading, or swimming. The National Park Service recommends that you always wear it when you’re on or in the water. By law, all children 12 and under must wear a life jacket while on the river in any vessel, including inner tubes. Every person in a boat or using an inner tube must have a life jacket within reach, not tied to the vessel. Each person’s life jacket must be the proper size and in good condition.The Upper Delaware River, at average water has only a few Class I or II rapids. However, moving water can be deceptive and potentially treacherous, even for non-paddlers. More drownings on the Delaware River have been swimming-related than boating-related. In all cases, the victims were not wearing a properly fitted life jacket.River Safety Tips Even though the Delaware River appears calm in some areas, DO NOT be misled! Moving water must be respected. Always be aware of the current river conditions.  

  • Wear your life jacket even when swimming. Most drownings occur when boaters stop and swim. Never swim alone!
  • Do not overestimate your swimming ability. Do not attempt to swim or wade across the river. The Delaware River has strong currents and steep drop-offs. Swimming becomes more difficult with increased current and water depth. Even the strongest of swimmers should be extremely cautious!
  • Do not jump into the water from cliffs or rocks.
  • Wear shoes to protect against glass and rocks.
  • River rocks can be very slippery.
  • Avoid obstacles in the water well in advance. Stop and scout rapids to pick the best channel.
  • Never tie your life jacket to your boat.
  • Do not stand in your boat. Kneel while going through rapids, you will be less likely to capsize.
  • If you capsize, don’t panic. Save people first! Retrieve boats and equipment only if it can be done safely.
  • Always stay with your group.
  • Guard yourself against sunburn by wearing a hat and light clothing and by using sunscreen with a high rating.
  • Cold water and/or weather can cause hypothermia.
  • Stay hydrated! Bring plenty of water. Do not drink river or stream water, even clean water can have natural bacteria.
  • Alcohol and boating are a killer combination! Alcohol can enhance heat-related illnesses and slow your response in an emergency. Laws on underage drinking, possession and use of illegal drugs, disorderly conduct and littering are strictly enforced.

Life vest Make Sure It Fits Sign

Make Sure it Fits

  Always be Prepared – Your Safety is Your ResponsibilityBring a spare paddle, a throw line, and a first aid kit.Be aware of river conditions. Call the Upper Delaware River Hotline at 845 252-7100. This recorded message is available 24 hours a day and is updated daily during the boating season. It provides the river height, air and water temperatures, boating conditions and general river safety information. Be aware of upstream releases and sudden changes in water depth and speed.Be ready for changing weather and cold water. Have rain gear. To protect against hypothermia, have clothing made of wool, polypropylene, high-performance fleece, or a wet suit. Immersion hypothermia is the numbing effect that cold water has on the body. Hypothermia is possible whenever the water temperature falls below 70°. Loss of body heat is 25 times greater in cold water than in air of the same temperature.Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return. Arrange drop off and pick up points before you leave. Leave emergency phone numbers and vehicle description and tag numbers with someone who can report that you are overdue.Use Proper Boating Techniques.Kneel when canoeing in rapids to keep your weight low. This helps avoid capsizing. In rapids, aim for the downstream “V”.Paddle on opposite sides of the canoe.Hold onto your paddle, not the boat. Paddle around eel weirs Avoid these large, “V”-shaped wooden and rock traps, usually constructed by late summer. Always be courteous on the river You may encounter a variety of river users on your trip. Please respect their rights and act responsibly and ethically.  
Life vest Wear It On You Sign

Wear it, it goes on you not just in the boat

If You Capsize…Don’t panic. Stay upstream of the boat so it does not pin you against a rock.Don’t attempt to stand in rapids. Get on your back and keep your feet up and pointed downstream to push off obstacles.Never swim against the current. Backstroke and let the current naturally take you to shore. Never try to stand in rapids. Your foot could become trapped between submerged rocks. The current can be strong enough to push you over and hold you under even if you are wearing a life jacket.Swimming SafetyThere are no designated or life-guarded swimming areas on the Upper Delaware River, swimming is not recommended! Wear a life jacket and appropriate footwear while swimming, wading, or floating. Do not jump or dive from cliffs, rocks, or bridges into the river; the water may be shallow and objects can be submerged. Rivers are constantly changing, especially with high water. Rocks can show up in a places they never were before.Never attempt to swim across the river. Even the strongest swimmers can become fatigued. A large number of drownings occur this way.Emergency Contact Numbers: If you have questions or need assistance, look for National Park Service rangers or volunteers, who are there to help.In an emergency call 911.Port Jervis Police Department- 845-856-5101National Park Service 24 Hour Dispatch: 570 426-2457


Backyard Pool Safety Tips

If you own a backyard swimming pool or visit a home that has a pool, remember, drowning deaths among children can occur. Most of the toddlers and infants who have drowned in backyard pools or spas were not expected to have been in the pool or spa area but rather somewhere else in the home, either asleep or playing in the home, etc. Drowning-related hospitalizations can often leave children with brain damage and disability. These drowning risks are 100% preventable by following the prevention tips below.

When your pool is “not-in-use”

  • Your pool or spa should have a 4-foot minimum high fence or enclosure that completely surrounds it preventing access to the pool water.
  • If the house forms a barrier, install a separation fence. Make sure that all doors & windows leading to the pool area are alarmed and locked.
  • If you have a door that leads to your pool or spa, that has a “doggy door”, remember that children climb through these.
  • Ensure gate is self-closing/self-latching and opens outward away from the pool.
  • Keep lawn equipment, chairs, tables away from the fence to prevent a child from climbing over.
  • Power operated pool covers must be properly maintained.
  • Keep lifesaving ring and shepherd’s hook in pool area & know how to use them.
  • Make sure that pool/spa gates are locked at all times.
  • Remove all inflatable toys from the pool/spa area.
  • Make sure the pool/spa gate is locked and turn-on all window and door alarms that lead to the pool/spa area.
  • Learn CPR.
  • Learn to swim.

When your pool is “in-use”

  • Never swim alone.
  • When watching children or adults in a pool/spa, supervise them like you are a lifeguard-maintain “active supervision.”
  • When watching children or adults in a pool/spa, do not read, eat, talk to others, sleep, listen to an audio headset, etc.
  • Designate a second adult for breaks.
  • An adult who supervises a pool/spa must know how to swim and know CPR.
  • Keep phone at poolside for emergency use.
  • Know how and when to use lifesaving equipment such as a shephard’s hook or lifesaving ring.
  • Have children use “the buddy system.”
  • Children are not “drown-proof” even if they know how to swim.
  • Inflatable toys, floaties, floatable swimsuits, are not lifesaving devises and do not replace “active supervision.”
  • Pool parties: Consider hiring a lifeguard through your local American Red Cross.
  • After use, account that everyone is out of the pool.
  • After use, remove inflatable toys from pool area.
  • After use, ensure self-closing/self-latching gate is working properly.
  • After use, lock the gate and turn-on all window or door alarms that lead to the pool area.