If your plans for keeping cool this summer include
taking a dip in a river or lake in the Brazos River
basin, you’ve made a good choice. There are many
opportunities to take the edge off the heat at Possum
Kingdom, Limestone and Granbury lakes, as well as
the Brazos and its tributaries.
But before you head out, please keep in mind
swimming out in nature adds some safety issues one
can easily avoid with a little forethought.
Here are some tips to help make your next swimming
trip at the lake or river a safe one:
• Find a swimming buddy. It always helps to have someone watch out for you in case you get in trouble,
and you can do the same for them. Try to swim, if possible, in areas with lifeguards.
• Stick to designated swimming areas. The Brazos River Authority has set aside swimming areas with
markers to keep people and watercraft well apart. Going beyond these areas, you not only run the risk
of getting closer to boating activity, you
also may get out into areas with currents
you would not find in the designated
• Avoid stagnant water and areas marked
with “Do Not Swim” signs. These areas
might increase your risk of exposure to
waterborne illnesses. For more
information about this topic, please click
• Be aware of issues related to lower lake
levels. The drought has lake levels
falling and that may make it tempting to go out beyond the designated area in an effort to find deeper
water. But outside the provided swimming areas there may be sudden drop-offs that could cause
problems for novice swimmers. Some drownings in Texas lakes have been attributed to this cause
already this year.
• Supervise children at all times around water. It only
takes a moment for a child to slip beneath the surface.
If a young one is in the water, an adult should be
nearby watching, available at all moments if trouble
• Be educated. Make sure children have taken swimming
lessons or are with someone who knows how to swim.
Also, learning life-saving skills, such as CPR and
rescue techniques, can prove a life-saver. Many
organizations offer such training.
• Avoid alcohol. It can impair ones judgment in the best
of circumstances. Not only can it add risks to adult
swimmers, but it can be a distraction to those tasked with keeping an eye on children.
• Drink plenty of fluids. It’s easy to get dehydrated in the sun, particularly when you are active in the
water and may not notice right away.
• Don’t get sunburned. Water reflecting off the water can compound the problem. When one is having
fun playing in the water it is easy to lose track of time and get too much sun. Make sure to wear
sunscreen and reapply regularly.
• Use floatation devices. Everyone, but especially children can benefit from lifejackets. Having an extra
floatation device on hand in case of emergency is a smart move.
• Be careful about diving. Typically, swimming areas are much too shallow for safe diving. Dive only in
areas you know to be deep enough, and where it is not prohibited.
There is a whole summer full of fun ahead of us. With a little care and planning we can make sure the next
visit to the water is a safe one.