Rivers, streams, and lakes can present unexpected challenges to recreationalists. For a safe and enjoyable experience, it is important that you remember these basic rules and guidelines:

  • Always wear a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) approved by the U.S. Coast Guard and make sure it is secured properly.

  • Be sure you have the proper equipment and know how to use it Check the weather and water levels before getting on the water.

  • Never paddle alone, and leave a float plan with a friend or family Carry a whistle and use it if you are in distress.

  • Cell phones may not work in the remote sections of the upper Schuylkill.

The American Canoe Association provides paddlers with a lot of useful information about safety on the water.

Read the American Canoe Association's Top 10 Safety Tips.

Bikers often face special safety challenges, particularly road bikers. It is important that bikers maintain their vehicles well, and obey all traffic laws and regulations. Here are a few safety tips for both road and mountain bikers:

  • Check your bike regularly. Make sure the tires are full, chains are greased, and the brakes are tight.

  • Always wear a helmet, both on the trail and on the street.

  • Obey all traffic signals and ride with the flow of traffic.

  • Stay off sidewalks in business districts and where prohibited by ordinance.

  • Please be aware that it is illegal to ride a bike on any sidewalk in the City of Philadelphia.

  • Wear light color clothing and reflective tape or lights if riding at night Wear the proper attire for the type of biking you plan to do.

  • Check the weather before your trip.

Hiking, like all outdoor sports, requires a certain level of knowledge and research to have a safe and enjoyable experience. Before you get out and enjoy nature, consider these following tips:

  • Wear sturdy shoes that are appropriate to the terrain you'll be traveling across.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather and in layers.

  • Bring plenty of water.

  • Do not drink untreated water from streams or creeks you come across.

  • Boil water or use purfication tablets before using water from streams or the river for drinking or cooking.

  • Bring a map and a compass to help you navigate the trails, particularly on the long distance trails.

  • Check the weather forecast, and avoid hiking in extreme heat or cold.

  • Do not eat plants or berries you find along the trails.

  • Tell a friend or family member where you plan to go and when you expect to be back.

  • If you get lost, stay put and call for help.

  • Please be advised that cell phones may not work in some locations.

  • Carry a whistle and use it if you are in distress.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy provides a lot of useful information for all hikers.

Visit the Things to Do activity pages on the Schuylkill River Heritage Area’s website for information on river safety.

Last updated: March 11, 2015

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