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Richmond Fire offers James River water safety tips as peak season approaches

RICHMOND, Va. — As peak season at the James River Park System approaches, the City of Richmond Department of Fire and Emergency Services has released some safety tips for water activities.

“Regardless of its natural beauty, there are many dangers when visiting the James or any body of water,” said a department spokesperson.

Richmond Fire recommended these safety tips for water activities:

  • Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well and swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
  • Never leave a young child unattended near water and ensure a responsible adult is monitoring; teach children to always ask permission to go near or in water.
  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone, supervise them.
  • By law when on the James in the City of Richmond, if water levels are at 5 feet and above, everyone on the river must wear an approved lifejacket.
  • Water levels for the James can be checked by calling the National Weather Service at (804)
  • 646-8228 (option 1, followed by option 4), wait to hear the Richmond Westham totals.
  • Even if you do not plan on swimming, be cautious wading around natural bodies of water including ocean shoreline, rivers and lakes. Cold temperatures, currents and underwater hazards can make a fall into these bodies of water dangerous.
  • Never mix alcohol and water activities (even if you’re not getting in) as it impairs judgment, balance, coordination, swimming skills, reduces the body’s ability to stay warm. Alcohol isn’t allowed in city parks or pools without written permission.
  • Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or utilize the local emergency call system available.
  • If you own a home pool or hot tub, have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets, and a first aid kit.

The James River Park System receives more than one million visitors a year, according to the City of Richmond Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

The department said they will begin operating a two-person bike team every Saturday and Sunday on Belle Isle, weather permitting. The teams will also operate on Memorial Day, Labor Day, and the Fourth of July.

The bike teams will serve as water safety ambassadors during peak visiting season.