Swim­ming not per­mit­ted in county reser­voirs

The Dundalk Eagle - - POLICE BEAT -

Bal­ti­more County av­er­ages be­tween five and 10 drown­ings and near-drown­ings each year. Many of these tragedies in­volve peo­ple who de­cided to cool off in reser­voirs or other bod­ies of wa­ter where swim­ming is il­le­gal.

Laws Re­gard­ing Open Wa­ter Swim­ming

Here are the rules re­gard­ing open-wa­ter swim­ming:

Swim­ming is il­le­gal in the three Bal­ti­more City-owned reser­voirs lo­cated in Bal­ti­more County: Pret­ty­boy, Loch Raven and Lib­erty. “No Swim­ming” signs are posted at all ob­vi­ous and some less ob­vi­ous points of ac­cess to the wa­ter. The Bal­ti­more En­vi­ron­men­tal Po­lice pa­trol the three reser­voirs; they have full po­lice pow­ers to pa­trol and en­force laws on wa­ter­shed prop­erty.

Swim­ming and other wa­ter ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing tub­ing, are per­mit­ted at your own risk in some rivers and streams run­ning through state parks – un­less the area is posted, “No Swim­ming.”

Most state parks have beaches or wa­ter­front ar­eas des­ig­nated for swim­ming; in those parks, swim­ming is pro­hib­ited out­side the des­ig­nated ar­eas. Con­tact the state park you plan to visit for de­tailed in­for­ma­tion about what is al­lowed.

Swim­ming in pri­vate, aban­doned quar­ries con­sti­tutes tres­pass­ing and is il­le­gal.

Dan­gers of Open Wa­ter Swim­ming

Reser­voirs were never de­signed for swim­ming and are un­safe. They are full of hid­den rocks, fallen trees and un­sta­ble ledges. The depths fluc­tu­ate sud­denly. Wa­ter vis­i­bil­ity is poor. Un­der­wa­ter cur­rents can be treach­er­ous.

Emer­gency Med­i­cal Ser­vices (EMS) of­fi­cials ad­vise ex­treme caution even in ar­eas where open wa­ter swim­ming is per­mit­ted. Open wa­ter swim­ming poses dif­fer­ent risks than pool swim­ming be­cause of limited vis­i­bil­ity, tidal ac­tion and fluc­tu­a­tions in wa­ter depth and tem­per­a­ture. It is un­wise to swim with­out a life­guard on duty. Al­ways check the wa­ter depth and for hid­den rocks be­fore div­ing.

About Tub­ing, Ca­noe­ing and Kayak­ing

Tub­ing — as well as ca­noe­ing and kayak­ing — can be haz­ardous if you ven­ture onto a stream or river that is mov­ing swiftly or car­ries you to an area of rapids.

Safe tub­ing, ca­noe­ing and kayak­ing re­quires that you know what you’re get­ting into. Map out a route be­fore­hand, and phys­i­cally in­spect it to make sure the wa­ter­way is calm. Give a friend or fam­ily mem­ber a copy of the route so that, if nec­es­sary, they can help res­cue crews lo­cate you. Know how long it will take to float along your tub­ing route, so that you do not get caught after dark in an iso­lated, un­fa­mil­iar area.

Adults and chil­dren who can­not swim should not par­tic­i­pate in tub­ing, ca­noe­ing and kayak­ing. Fire of­fi­cials rec­om­mend use of a per­sonal flota­tion de­vice even for those who can swim.

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