If you are like me and my family, you enjoy swimmin’ off river sandbars here in Nebraska this time of year. With that in mind, and as a self-proclaimed river rat (pretty much growing up along and working next to the Platte River in eastern Nebraska for many years), here are three things I want you to remember regarding safety swimmin’ off those river sandbars:
*NO. 1. Wear a life jacket (No matter how good you can swim – it’s dark water that can be very deep with unseen obstacles and a swift current).
*NO. 2 . Wear river sandals or an old pair of tennis shoes (You don’t know what’s on the bottom of the river that can cut up your feet).
*AND, NO. 3 = Buddy up with a partner (Staying close together, keeping an eye on each other).
Some additional reminders about swimming off river sandbars. If the sandbars are on private land, don’t trespass, make certain to get permission from the owner or owners before treading on them. Respect private property and our river ecosystems, be sure to pack out all of your trash leaving only footprints behind! Also, Joel Jorgensen of Game and Parks points out that folks on sandbars should avoid violating the Endangered Species Act and the Nebraska Nongame and Endangered Species Act by keeping the appropriate distance from nesting Interior Least Terns and Piping Plovers. Joel says most people won’t bother the birds (hopefully) if they remain at the water/sandbar interface and avoid going up on the main portions of sandbars. The birds will tell you, he adds, if you are too close, if you are observant. Enjoy taking a dip, no diving and respect that river!