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Biggest Little City
Fire Department staff training in truckee river for water rescues

Water Safety

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With the 120-mile long Truckee River running through downtown Reno, water safety is a top priority for RFD. The Truckee River drains 3,060 square miles and has an average flow of 804 cubic feet per second (cfs). The maximum-recorded flow for the Truckee was in 1963 when the river flowed at 18,900 cfs. As a comparison to recent events, in 1997 the Truckee was measured at 18,200 cfs, and in 2005 at 16,000 cfs.

It is critical that our citizens understand the power and force of the Truckee River. With that, here is some river, flood and ice safety information to keep you safe.

 NOTE: The Truckee River is flowing about three times the normal level for this time of year and forecasters are predicting these higher-than-average flows will continue until July. River flows are extremely fast this year and river recreation by the general public is not advised at this time. Consider waiting to float or swim the Truckee River until flows subside.

River Safety

  • Always wear a personal flotation device. Wear a Cost Guard approved type III-V, properly adjusted lifejacket at all times when you are on or near the river.
  • Fish/float/swim/boat with a buddy
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back
  • Save the alcohol for after you leave the river
  • If you fall in, assume a defensive swimming position
  • Be sure your white water skills and experience are equal to the river and the conditions you are going to run. NEVER BOAT ALONE.
  • Know your limits. Know how to self rescue on white water rivers. Know when and how to swim for an eddy.
  • Reduce injuries by wearing protective foot wear and proper clothing designed for river running.
  • Helmets are a must for kayakers and canoeist at all times. Rafters should wear helmets in Class IV and above water.
  • Be prepared for extremes in weather, especially cold. Know about the dangers of hypothermia and how to deal with it. When air and water temperature add up to 120 degrees or less, hypothermia is a high risk.
  • Wear a wet suit and booties in spring to early summer and always in Class V water. Know early signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and dehydration in hot weather. Remember certain medications can complicate these types of environmental injuries.
  • Know how to recognize and react to river hazards such as holes, wrap rocks, undercut boulders and walls, rocks sieves, and horizon lines across the river.
  • Never run a rapid unless you can see a clear path through it. Watch out for new snags after winter and spring floods.
  • Carry a first aid kit and know how to use it. Learn or review medical aid responsibilities and CPR. Avoid rattlesnakes and poison oak, but know how to deal with emergencies if someone is unlucky.
  • When in doubt, stop and scout. If you are still in doubt? Portage.
  • Remote rivers through isolated wilderness should be approached with caution, since aid is difficult or impossible to obtain in case of an accident.

Flood Safety

  • Keep your distance from raging flood waters
  • Avoid skin contact with any flood water
  • Don’t drive through flooded roads
  • Be prepared to not have tap water at your home for several days

Ice Safety

#1 Rule – Stay off the ice

  • Call 9-1-1 Immediately
  • Attempt shore-based rescue, do not enter the ice or water to attempt a rescue
  • Victim has about 10 minutes of purposeful muscle movement
  • They will lose heat 25-32 times faster
  • Hypothermia can cause unconsciousness in as few as 7 minutes

Ice Safety Recommendations

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