How to stay safe when using Sacramento-area parks and trails: Police, rangers offer tips

Following the police reports of two sexual assaults Sunday in Sacramento recreational areas – one in a public park and another on a bike trail – here are local law enforcement and park ranger tips on how to stay safe.

Personal safety

When enjoying Sacramento regional recreational areas, Sacramento police spokesman Sgt. Vance Chandler said its important to be alert and aware of your surroundings and travel in groups when possible. Chandler also advised carrying a cellphone at all times in case of an emergency. If you see something suspicious, you can report it to police by calling 911 in an emergency or calling the police department’s non-emergency number, (916) 808-5471. You can also carry self-defense items such as pepper spray, but Chandler said you should not let such items lull you into a sense of false security.

Pet safety

Sacramento County Regional Parks advises park visitors to keep dogs on leashes so they do not “become trapped or injured while in unfamiliar territory.” Dogs are also at risk from wildlife hazards such as rattlesnakes, ticks and poison oak.

“Your pet will be less likely to encounter these dangers on a leash,” according to the regional parks website.

Water safety

Wearing a life jacket is an important safety practice while swimming and enjoying water sports in Sacramento County’s rivers, according to the regional parks website. “Even strong swimmers can run into trouble,” because strong river currents can pull people downstream and river water can hide hazards such as logs or sharp rocks.

Life jacket loaner programs are available for kids, offering life jackets for temporary use at several Sacramento County parks including Discovery Park, Sand Cove, Howe Avenue and other river accesses.

Riverbeds can have sharp drop-offs, so swimmers should stick close to shore, according to regional parks.

Adults should supervise children and pets and avoid algae blooms and trash in the water, since they can pose hazards, officials caution.

Molly Sullivan covers crime, breaking news and police accountability for The Bee. She grew up in Northern California and is an alumna of Chico State.