Water Safety at Hagg Lake

For Immediate Release: Monday, May 22, 2017

Sponsored by: Support Services Department, Facilities and Parks Services Division

Make Safety Top Priority When Visiting Hagg Lake

Scoggins Valley Park at Henry Hagg Lake is a favorite destination for many, especially during warm weather. As temperatures begin to climb and more people head out to the lake, the public is urged to make safety their top priority. Hagg Lake is a natural area with inherent dangers common to natural settings and bodies of water. Washington County is committed to providing a safe experience for all who visit Scoggins Valley Park. Visitors are also expected to take responsibility for their own safety, including the vigilant use of U. S. Coast Guard-approved, personal flotation devices (PFDs), regardless of swimming ability. Children must be under adult supervision at all times.

According to Washington County Parks Superintendent Carl Switzer, "The only way to safely recreate in Hagg Lake is to use a personal flotation device at all times whether you're wading, swimming or boating. Anyone who visits the lake without their own life jacket can borrow one from us for the day. They are available at kiosks located at recreation areas throughout the park."

The following practices are strongly recommended by Washington County Parks and the member agencies of Safe Kids Washington County.

General Water Safety

  • Wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices whenever on, in or near the water.
  • Parents or other responsible adults must monitor their children's water activities at all times and ensure that children wear properly sized PFDs.
  • Do not rely upon water wings or inflatable toys—they can enable swimmers to go beyond their ability or can suddenly deflate which can lead to a drowning situation.
  • Check for a nearby PFD loaner station kiosk and take note of the emergency throw ring provided there.
  • Ask for a "Swim Watch" wrist band at the park entrance to help monitor children. Each band contains instructions and a whistle which can be used to alert others in case you need emergency assistance.
  • PFDs are required by Oregon law to be readily available for all passengers in boats and worn by everyone 12 years old and under, at all times when the boat is underway. Persons being towed are required to wear a PFD at all times while towed, regardless of age. 
  • Follow the safety messages on all signs posted at the lake.
Responding to Emergencies

  • If a child is missing, always check the water first! Seconds count in preventing death or disability from drowning.
  • If someone is in trouble in the water, reach out to that person using any nearby object that will extend your reach. This could be an oar, tree branch or even a belt or towel. If available, use the emergency throw ring stored at a nearby PFD loaner station kiosk.
  • Keep yourself safe. In most cases, only trained professionals should enter the water to perform a rescue.

Before You Go: Plan Ahead for Possible Risks

  • Potential risks posed by sudden drop-offs, slippery or uneven footing, rocks and plants under the surface, boats, fishing lines and even other swimmers can be reduced by wearing a PFD at all times. 
  • Know the swimming abilities of those in your group. Plan ahead for appropriate supervision and access to personal flotation devices. If needed, PFDs may be borrowed from loaner station kiosks in several locations around the lake. PFDs are available for day use and must be returned to the kiosks before the park closes for the night. Do not allow wading, swimming or boating without the proper use of a personal flotation device.
  • Have a plan for when and where to find help in an emergency. Check to see if you have cell coverage ahead of time in case you need to dial 9-1-1. Aid is also available on weekends at the Ranger Station at the park entrance.
  • Identify your recreation spot on the park map for future reference, just in case you need to describe your location to emergency responders.
  • Set safety guidelines for the whole family and review prior to arriving at the lake.

Additionally, on Saturday and Sunday, May 27 and 28, free parking will be offered to all visitors to Hagg Lake who donate a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device. New or gently used PFDs in all sizes are needed and especially those for infants, children and older youth. The PFD drive is in cooperation with Safe Kids Washington County and donations are also accepted at any fire station in Washington County, or on weekends at the Scoggins Valley Park Ranger Station.

For more information regarding swimming safety, please consult the following:

Henry Hagg Lake and Scoggins Valley Park are owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and maintained for public use by Washington County Facilities and Parks Services. Visitors are expected to take responsibility for their own safety, including the use of personal flotation devices whenever they are on, in or near the water, regardless of swimming ability. Children must be under adult supervision at all times.

Media Contact:

Carl Switzer, Superintendent, Washington County Parks