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Aquatic Safety in California State Parks

Today, California State Parks manages 279 California State Park Units -- nearly 2/3 of these have an aquatic recreation component:

  • Over 300 miles of ocean coastline
  • Over 600 miles of reservoir/lake shoreline
  • Over 50 million people visit California State Parks each year.
  • #1 Reason given in visitor surveys for visiting a park? 
    WATER!!

California State Parks maintains operations at numerous major and minor inland bodies of water including lake, reservoirs, rivers, ponds and swimming pools.

  • Aquatic recreation (all aspects) accounts for two thirds of all visitor activity, attendance and revenue generated in State Parks.
  • California State Parks employee’s approximately 600 seasonal lifeguards each summer.
  • Approximately 70 permanent lifeguards through the State Park system.
  • California State Lifeguards perform approximately 10,000 water rescues each year. 
  • Since 1967, California State Parks Lifeguards have rescued over 266,818 people!
  • The California State Park Lifeguard Service is certified by the United States Lifesaving Association for meeting national lifeguard standards.

Swimming continues to be the second leading recreational pastime (behind walking) in all national surveys.

  • 50% of the United States population is non-swimmers.
  • Drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death for all ages nationally. 
  • Tragically, drowning continues to be the leading cause of accidental death in State Parks.

As such, programs have evolved to include the use of warning signs, public information, education and interpretation (materials and programs), a broad spectrum of employee training, including boat patrol and enforcement and formal lifeguard services preventing and performing swimmer rescues. 

The United States Lifesaving Association estimates there is less than a one in eighteen million chance of drowning when certified lifeguards are on duty.

For more information on drowning prevention in California, go to California Park and Recreation Society - Aquatic Section drowning prevention web site.