The City’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services will be operating a two person bike team on Saturdays and Sundays through Monday, September 7, 2015, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Belle Isle. These teams have had a direct impact on the safety of visitors and they will serve as water safety ambassadors during peak season. This year alone, the department has responded to 30 emergency calls resulting in 24 people rescued from the James River, two body recoveries, and responding to four good intent calls.
The James River Park System is Richmond's largest, most unique and best known park and receives well over 500,000 visitors a year. It is actually a system of parks along both sides of the James River as it passes through the city, making Richmond the only urban city in the country with Class IV white water rapids in the middle of downtown. Regardless of its natural beauty, there are many dangers when visiting the James River or any body of water. Here are some water safety tips we recommend you follow:
- 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 do not trust a child’s life to another child; 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 the James River water levels are at 5 feet and above, everyone on the river must wear a lifejacket. When water levels are at 9 feet or above, no one is allowed on the river without a permit.
- 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 as it impairs judgment, balance and coordination, swimming skills, reduces the body’s ability to stay warm, and isn’t allowed in city parks.
- Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or utilize the local emergency call system.
- 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.