Is It Dangerous to Swim in a Reservoir?

Is It Dangerous to Swim in a Reservoir?
Swimming is a fun and healthy way to get some exercise and relax. The beach and the pool are ideal places to swim. We’ve covered these topics before, but over time, many people have asked: is it dangerous to swim in a reservoir? As it turns out, it depends on the reservoir and the specific area.

What Exactly is a Reservoir?

According to National Geographic, a reservoir is an artificial lake where water is stored. It may resemble a lake, but it is quite different. Usually man-made, reservoirs store water for a variety of reasons, including flood control, drinking water, or as a source of hydroelectricity.

Is it Dangerous to Swim in a Reservoir?

Depending on where you live, it may be dangerous to swim in a reservoir. It may even be illegal in your area. That said, some reservoirs have areas that are specially designed for swimmers. It really does vary from reservoir to reservoir. For example, it is illegal to swim in reservoirs in California. In other states, this is not the case.

For the purposes of this article, let’s ignore legality. You can always check with the local authorities to learn about what is and isn’t allowed, and we highly suggest that you do.

Instead, let’s talk about some of the reasons why it could be dangerous to swim in a reservoir. First, even though it may look like a lake in some parts, reservoirs often have very steep sides. This can make it difficult to get out of, which can lead to drowning danger.

Additionally, even though the surface seems calm, depending on the reservoir’s use, there may be hazardous machinery and pumps churning under the water. This can cause strong currents similar to riptides. These can trap you under the waves or cause serious injury. As an added danger, you could get caught in the mechanisms.

Finally, the water may be much deeper than it seems. Unlike natural bodies of water, there may not be a gradual increase in depth. It could simply be a sudden stark drop into extremely deep water.

Swimming in Designated Areas

Everything above applies to simply jumping into a reservoir. It’s never safe to swim in a body of water without a trained lifeguard on duty. Fortunately, many reservoirs do offer specific areas where swimming is encouraged. These typically have lifeguards and far less hazardous conditions.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can rest easy. It should still be considered as similar to swimming at a beach, with all the dangers that come with that. A lifeguard can offer peace of mind, but it pays be a strong swimmer and to stay aware of your environment. After all, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is a major cause of death all over the world.

No matter where you are swimming, you should never swim alone. Bring a buddy along to keep an eye on each other. If one of you gets into trouble, the other can help or call for emergency services. Think ahead and don’t take unnecessary risks.

So is it dangerous to swim in a reservoir? As you can see, it really depends on the reservoir. Just like any other body of water, the value of swimming safety can’t be spoken of highly enough.