Swimming, wading and playing in the water are great ways to cool off on hot summer days, but there are ever-present risks in lakes and rivers. Swift currents, abrupt drop-offs and cold water all create dangers, even for experienced swimmers.
Swimming is allowed in most Clark County parks that have water access.
Only one park, Salmon Creek Regional Park-Klineline Pond, has lifeguards. Lifeguards will be on duty at Klineline Pond daily, from July 1 through Labor Day.
For an added level of safety, Klineline Pond has a life jacket loaner station for children and adults.
Having lifeguards on duty reduces the inherent dangers with swimming, but park users are urged to follow basic water safety at all times.
Clark County parks on the Columbia River, namely Captain William Clark Regional Park at Cottonwood Beach and Frenchman's Bar Regional Park, are not safe for swimming because of strong currents and sudden drop-offs.
In addition, swimming is not allowed at Lucia Falls Regional Park because areas near the falls are sensitive fish spawning grounds.
The following Clark County facilities have water access but do not have lifeguards on duty. Park users swim at their own risk. Parents should be vigilant watching children near the water.
- Captain William Clark Park Regional Park at Cottonwood Beach
- Daybreak Regional Park
- Frenchman’s Bar Regional Park
- Haapa Boat Launch
- Lewisville Regional Park
- Moulton Falls Regional Park
- Vancouver Lake Regional Park
There are other public swimming areas or pools in the county that are not operated by Clark County Parks:
- Battle Ground Lake State Park
- Firstenburg Community Center, Vancouver Parks and Recreation
- Marshall/Luepke Community Center, Vancouver Parks and Recreation
- Camas outdoor swimming pool, June 26-Aug. 26
Water quality concern
To report a water quality concern, contact Clark County Public Health at (360) 397-8428 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 43 percent of drownings occur in rivers, lakes and other natural water bodies.
More than 1,500 children and teenagers drown in the United States each year. Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths among children and teenagers 1 to 14 years old.
In Washington state, an average of 25 children and teens drown each year.
There are several things all park users can do to improve water safety at county parks:
- Learn how to swim and never swim alone. Always practice the buddy system while in the water.
- Watch swimmers while in or near the water. Designate a responsible adult who can swim to watch those in the water, especially children.
- Use U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets, especially for children and adults who are not strong swimmers.
- Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation and basic first aid. These skills could save someone’s life.
- Obey posted rules that are in place for your protection.
- Know the setting and be aware of strong currents, drop-offs and other potential hazards.
- Never dive off bridges and cliffs. Winter storms can shift underwater boulders, creating summer diving hazards where none existed the year before.