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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.

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
  • A person trapped in icy water has about 10 minutes of purposeful muscle movement
  • Lose body heat 25-32 times faster than normal, rendering the person incapacitated
  • Hypothermia can cause unconsciousness in as few as 7 minutes

Ice Safety Recommendations

Flood Safety

  • Keep your distance from raging flood waters
  • Never allow pets or children into fast moving water, even if not at flood stage yet
  • Avoid skin contact with any flood water, there may be unknown contaminants in the water
  • Turn Around, Don't Drown!  Stay off roads with flood waters flowing over them.
  • 6 inches of water is enough to sweep a car off a road due to unanticipated strong currents from flood water, never try to wade through flowing water
  • Sandbags are provided at various points within the City during times of flooding, be sure to pick some up to protect your home if you live in a flood prone area
  • Be prepared to not have tap water at your home for several days and have supplies on hand if water service is interrupted

River Safety

  • Always wear a personal flotation device. Wear a Cost Guard approved type III-V, properly adjusted life jacket 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.