# Important Safety Information
## Lower American River Safe Paddling
Thousands of Californians enjoy popular means of recreation such as rafting, canoeing and kayaking down the Lower American River. Many avoidable accidents occure every year. The following tips will help you to have a fun and safe paddling experience.
## ALWAYS Wear a Life Jacket
All inflatable rafts, canoes and kayaks must carry a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (life jacket) for each person on board. Children 13 years old and under must wear a life jacket at all times, it's the law. All boaters should wear a life jacket, especially when going through turbulent waters or rapids.
## Always Be Prepared
You may want to bring along some extra things just in case, such as a bailer, extra paddle, extra sunscreen, waterproof trashbag and a patch kit. Keep all extra items in a floatable container. Water shoes are recommended as well since 80% of injuries along the river are related to cut feet.
## Cold Water Survival
During the fall, winter and spring months the river can be very cold. Cold water is another reason to wear a personal floatation device when in or around the river. The shock of being suddenly immersed in cold water can weaken even the best swimmer. Hypothermia can set in and can render a person unconscious. Wearing a life jacket will keep you afloat.
## Watch for Hazards
Watch for obstacles such as fallen trees or limbs, brush, bridges and pilings. River current can pin the boat or boater against obstacles or cause a capsize. Beware of reverse flows where the surface water flows upstream. Reversals can be caused by dams, some rapids and other obstacles. Swimmers and small boats can become trapped in a reverse flow. If you cannot swim out of a reverse flow, dive deeply into the undercurrent and the downstream flow may carry you out. Never risk your life to save equipment or belongings.
## Boating Courtesy
Showing a little courtesy while on the river is a required part of boating. When rafting is heavy, such as on a weekend, be especially courteous to other boaters and people along the shore. Keep an eye out for for a boater in trouble and lend a helping hand if you can.