DE River Safety Top Priority During Holiday

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If you're heading to the Poconos, to the Delaware River, make sure you bring a life jacket and don't expect to swim.

The water level is too high and the current is too strong.

For nearly three weeks, all the rain in our area is starting to add up in the Delaware River.

The river is now about ten feet above normal.

"Believe it or not, this is the highest I've ever seen the water," said Tony Pellot of New York.

For years, Pellot and his family, have visited the park during the fourth of July holiday.

Each year, they look forward to safely enjoying the Delaware River.

But this year, with the high river levels, the family is very serious about safety.

"We all wear personal floatation device's. It doesn't matter how hot it gets. We always keep out PFD's on," said Pellot.

Tony's family also enjoys cooling off in the river, which means the lifeguards on duty at Smithfield Beach will have their eyes glued to the water.

"Their safety is very serious, it's our primary concern. That's why we're here, to keep them safe," said Aleda Johnson, a park lifeguard.

Last year, the fourth of July holiday attracted about 600 visitors to Smithfield Beach at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

Now with the river levels ten feet higher than normal, the lifeguards have to make sure visitors, who want to cool off, won't go too far.

"When the river is above eight feet, it becomes wading only. So they're only allowed in up to their knees. So that really helps us watch so no one is going in and floating down the river," said Johnson.

Swimmer safety on the Delaware River isn't the only concern this holiday weekend.

So is the safety of visitors wanting to enjoy water sports activities.

The Pack Shack Water Gap Adventures in Delaware Water Gap won't be renting out kyacks or canoes.

They're sticking with large raft rentals instead.

"They're much safer, they won't tip over, you can put a bunch of people in there," said Vanessa Harris of the Pack Shack Water Gap Adventures.

Park officials say you must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life vest when in the Delaware River this fourth of July holiday, whether you're wading or in a raft, kayak or canoe.