Water & Boating Safety

Sheriff's Office Marine unit

Swimming Safety

  1.  Always swim with a buddy and stay close enough for visual and verbal communication.
  2. Have a plan and share it with an adult. Plans should include what time you are leaving, what time you expect to be back and where you are going. Include what time someone should call 911 if you don’t return.
  3. Never swim while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  4. Always bring a personal flotation device (PFD) with you. They save lives!
  5. Keep kids within arm's reach. Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 14 and under.
  6. Be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, undertow and changing weather conditions. Lakes and rivers in our state are cold enough to cause drowning by cold water shock - even in the summer months.
  7. Don't dive in. Two-thirds of catastrophic neck injuries occur in open water and the sea.
  8. Learn CPR and basic water rescue skills.
  9. Make yourself visible to boaters.
  10. Stay hydrated.
  11. Wear sun protection.
  12. Bring the proper equipment with you:
    • Cell phone in a waterproof bag
    • Portable light source with extra batteries
    • Whistle

Washington State Boater Education Card 

In Washington, all boaters ages 12 and older are required to pass a boating safety course or an exam in order to operate a motorboat with 15 horsepower or greater. It is also state law that all people in a boat must have a properly fitting U.S. Coast Guard–approved life jacket.

River and Shoreline Safety
Snohomish County is home to some of the most beautiful beaches, rivers and lakes in the world. As we ease into summer, they present vast recreational opportunities – fishing, kayaking, rafting, and other activities. Before you go, be prepared. Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, Washington State Parks and Safe Kids Snohomish County offer the following are tips on how to enjoy our county water areas safely:


  • Snohomish County Code 10.32 requires life jackets and helmets on any watercraft on the Skykomish River from the area of Big Eddy to the river’s source.
  • Wear a river helmet.
  • River channels change from season to season. With each high water, flood, or summer melt, trees, branches, and debris are moved around in the river, creating snags and strainers. A person caught in a snag (single tree or root ball) or strainer (multiple trees and branches) will be pinned by the force of the river current.
  • Don’t go into a river without training and knowledge. Seek out river professionals, guides who can show you how to use the river safely. Knowledgeable guides can point out dangerous areas.

Lakes and Coastal Waters

  • Lake and coastal water temperatures range from 55º F to 60º F. Because the human body can cool down 25 times faster in cold water than air, hypothermia is a real danger in our Snohomish County waters. A healthy adult can become exhausted and even unconscious in just 30 minutes in 55º F water.
  • Carry a tide table. Beach and trailhead access can disappear with the rising tide.
  • Currents along the coastline change constantly throughout the day because of the tides and can overpower even the strongest swimmer.
  • Expect steep drop-offs at the water’s edge.