As peak season approaches, Richmond Fire offers James River water safety tips

RICHMOND, Va. — As peak season at the James River Park System approaches, the City of Richmond Department of Fire and Emergency Services is reminding visitors about the dangers of the body of water.

The James River Park System receives more than one million visitors a year, according to officials.

Last year, water rescue teams conducted 172 calls for service of which 94 people were rescued from the water and 6 submerged victims were recovered, according to Richmond Fire.

“We want all of these numbers to decrease but we can’t do it alone!” said a department spokesperson.

The department 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 select option 4 for water levels then wait to hear the Richmond Westham totals. Or you can utilize the River Level Web Application.
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