Heat Wave Reminder: Be Safe On The Water

posted by Anna Erickson - 

The heat wave in the Portland area has a lot of people hitting local rivers and lakes.

The amount of people heading to Glenn Otto Park in Troutdale and High Rocks Park in Gladstone has spiked. Seems like everyone wants to be in or around the water. AMR’s Swift Water Lifeguards have important reminders for people who are going to area rivers and lakes based on some recent incidents at Glenn Otto Park.

Justine Kilsby, River Rescue Program Coordinator, says they've had a record number of rescues by their Lifeguards, because people were swept into strong current while trying to retrieve their flip flops. This is a dangerous situation for non-swimmers and those who have little swimming ability.  

Kilsby says the best thing to do is let it go. Don't put yourself at risk by swimming after your flip flops or other personal items.  Parents should also remind their children let it go, whether it’s a swim toy, boat, or flip flop.

Seven people had to be rescued in one day last week from being swept away in the strong currents and drop-offs while trying to get their flip flops, compared with a total of four for the entire season last year. Several of those rescued were children. Kilsby says to remember that flip flops are replaceable, your child, friend, or family member is not.

Most water-related accidents can be avoided by knowing how to stay safe, following a few simple guidelines, and/or listening to the Lifeguards’ commands. Having everyone wear a properly fitted life jacket at the river is also a priority

If you do find yourself caught in a current, don't panic and don't fight the current. Try to swim parallel to the shore until you are able to get out of the current, which is usually a narrow channel of water, especially in a river. Gradually try to make your way back to shore as you do so. If you're unable to swim away from the current, stay calm and float with the current. The current will usually slow down, allowing you to swim to shore. Remember even a very good swimmer who tries to swim against a strong current will get worn out.

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