SACRAMENTO -- Families were enjoying Tiscornia Park in Sacramento on Memorial Day but water rescue teams know how quickly the serenity on the river can turn to tragedy.
"This is not a pool, this is not a lake, this is a flowing river and it will act like that," said Cole Glenwright, who is a volunteer with the Drowning Accident Rescue Team.
On Monday, DART kicked off their summer Proactive Patrol program with Sacramento County Regional Parks. They will be a very visible presence at the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers every weekend through Labor Day.
"Walking along, encouraging kids to wear life jackets, encouraging adults to wear life jackets as well," Glenwright said. "Before we started this program in 2015, this was considered one of the most dangerous spots in Sacramento County for drownings, averaging around 12 per year just in this little area of the river. We kicked this program off in 2015 and it's between zero and one per year."
Families appreciate their presence.
"I've seen them walking back and forth the whole time, seen the sheriff a few times trying to make sure everybody's safe," said beach visitor Kamau Burnett.
Burnett's young daughters were wearing life jackets and relatives were watching the girls at all times.
"Anything could change with the water or something," he said. "They slip and fall, float away or something. So I just try to keep an eye on them."
DART teams were also keeping an eye on beachgoers and boaters from a vantage point on the river. They had a recuse boat in position to respond to water emergencies.
With afternoon temperatures only in the low 70s, it was not a typical May afternoon.
"So it's definitely a calmer Memorial Day weekend for us, which is not a problem," Glenwright said.
But with the weather about to heat up, the potential for water emergencies will rise as well. Swimmers can get overwhelmed by the cold water temperature.
"It sneaks up on you pretty quick," Glenwright said.
People also put themselves in danger by drinking too much alcohol on the river.
"Remember, that is not going to make you a better swimmer. And those are some of the more tragic incidents we sometimes see is folks who have had a little bit too much to drink and then maybe overestimate their swimming ability," Glenwright explained.
The number one thing everybody can do is wear that flotation device. They're on loan at Tiscornia Park for free.
Glenwright told FOX40 children without a life jacket sometimes drown without anybody noticing.
"By the time you see them go under the water, it's probably too late for you to grab a life jacket, run down there and try and affect the rescue yourself, which is why it's so critical you have a life jacket on them even before something happens," he said.