Monday, June 26, 2006

The Lure of the River

It’s HOT and folks are flocking to the lakes and streams and rivers to cool off. This weekend brought the first hot days we’ve had this year. What people forget is that the water is still cold, usually around 58 degrees. As soon as seven inactive (wading) minutes in the water and hypothermia can begin to set in. There can be treacherous rapids and hidden dangers such as rocks and logs.

This weekend there were five water fatalities. One in the Sandy River, not far from my house. The river where Princess swims, where little kids fish, where the smelt run used to draw fishermen from miles around. It looks gentle and the cliffs along the riverbank are tempting jumping off points. But below the surface lurk sharp rocks and whirlpools and eddies that can catch a person unaware.

A bit farther away, a young rafter drowned in the Clackamas River when his rubber raft flipped and he was trapped underwater. The others were swimmers who went under, two of them children. None of the victims was wearing a life vest. All of them were accompanied by friends or parents who were unable to save them.

The Water Patrol and the Rescue Teams are out today reminding people of the possible dangers in the river. Laws cover boaters, but “walk-ins” are on their own.

TV stations are advising viewers to be cautious in the heat. To drink lots of fluids, stay indoors (or relatively quiet) during the hottest part of the day, take precautions if you are swimming, pay special attention to young children and the elderly. Old news to someone from Missouri, but a much needed advisory for some Pacific Northwest residents who are not used to this weather.


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