Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Cold water, fast currents create hazardous swimming conditions in local waters


News Release from Communications, Clark County, Wash.
Posted on FlashAlert: May 23rd, 2017 11:21 AM
Vancouver, Wash. - Now that warm weather has arrived, the first swim of the season may seem irresistible. But lakes and rivers in Southwest Washington are cold enough to immobilize even the strongest swimmer. With sunshine and warm temperatures predicted for the Memorial Day weekend, swimmers are cautioned to put safety first.

Drowning prevention
Rivers are high and swift from rains and snow melt, and debris in waterways can trap swimmers. Large rocks and logs can tip over rafts, canoes and kayaks. Swimmers are urged to monitor river and stream conditions and observe these swimming safety tips:
* Wear a life jacket when swimming anywhere without lifeguards or whenever on a boat, personal watercraft, inner tube or other water sports equipment.
* Ensure children wear lifejackets. Inflatable toys do not keep children safe. By law, children 12 and younger must wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket or vest on all vessels 18 feet or smaller.
* Never leave children unsupervised in or near water, even for a minute. Drowning can happen swiftly and silently. Supervision requires complete attention, even if other adults are present.
* Don't swim alone, even at a public pool or beach with lifeguards. Use the buddy system.
* Avoid drinking alcohol when swimming or boating.
* Know your limits. Drowning often occurs when a swimmer tires.
* Avoid swimming in dangerous areas such as fast-flowing rivers or ocean beaches with riptides.
* Don't dive into shallow water or unfamiliar swimming holes.
* Spas, pools, ponds, five-gallon buckets and wading pools all are drowning hazards for young children. Cover or fence them.
* Learn how to swim. Enroll children in age appropriate swimming lessons.
* Obey posted rules; they're in place for your protection.
* Swim in designated areas only.
* Never dive off bridges and cliffs. Enter the water feet first, especially in unfamiliar areas. Winter storms can shift underwater obstacles, creating hazards where none existed the year before.
* Use goggles to identify potential hazards not visible from the surface.
* Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and basic first aid. You could save someone's life.

Swimming at Clark County parks
Swimming is allowed in most Clark County parks with water access, but parks on the Columbia River are not considered safe for swimming because of strong currents and sudden drop-offs.

Only Klineline Pond has certified lifeguards. They will be on duty daily July 1 through Labor Day. Klineline Pond has a life jacket loaner station for children and adults. Life jackets are donated by the International Order of the Blue Gavel Nautical Safety Foundation.

Related information:
* Swimming pool safety: www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/WaterRecreation/PoolSafety.aspx
* Streamflow conditions in Washington: https://waterdata.usgs.gov/wa/nwis/current/?type=flow
* Staying cool during hot weather: www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/EmergencyPreparednessandResponse/Factsheets/HotWeatherSafety.aspx
* Swim beach advisories for algae and bacteria: www.clark.wa.gov/public-health/public-beaches
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