SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Local authorities are ramping up for a busy boat and swim season in preparation for Memorial Day. But, post-pandemic, they say there are a couple more factors that could make cooling off more dangerous.

“We come all the time, here and other spots too,” said Tiffany Altenburg.

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Altenburg her girlfriend like to bring five-year-old Aaliyah out to the river, but they are always cautious.

“I’ve heard [about] a whole lot of drownings at the river,” she said.

They make sure she wears her life vest.

“We’ve never pulled anyone out of the water that was wearing one,” said Keith Wade, a Sacramento Fire Department captain.

Emergency responders say it’s even more important to educate people about the importance of water safety this year.

“Last year a lot of the businesses were shut down,” said Daniel Bowers, the Director of Emergency Management. “Swim lessons, community pools … families didn’t have the opportunity to get their kids out in the water practicing those swim skills.”

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And a proper life vest fitting is paramount.

“When you get in the water, your body will actually contract slightly – typically from cold water. So the life jacket almost has to be uncomfortable to breathe,” said volunteer Robert Ross.

On Tuesday, first responders were practicing their life-saving skills. As Sacramento’s community emergency response team learned the ropes from seasoned volunteer Nancie Farris.

“The further you throw it out, the more chance they have of catching it,” she said.

They will patrol the beaches this summer, reminding people to wear their life vests – and to be careful, considering how drought conditions are exposing debris and lowering water levels.

“There’s a lot of places, especially up the American [River] where people like to jump off the rocks. What we recommend is people do depth checks before they jump because it might not be as deep as a couple years ago when they were last out there,” said Bowers.

No matter which waterway you decide to swim in, wearing a life vest is paramount.

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“Just get a life jacket. Better safe than sorry – and they’re free,” said Altenburg.