Beautiful but Deadly:  water safety and awareness

May 18, 2012

Snohomish County is home to some of the most beautiful beaches, rivers and lakes in the Pacific Northwest.

As the days grow longer and sunnier, they present vast recreational opportunities – fishing, kayaking, rafting, and other activities.

But every year, people drown in our Snohomish County waters.

Following are a few tips on how to enjoy our county water areas safely:

 

·         Always wear a life jacket when you are on the water. Never go near moving water without one.

·         Beach logs, river banks and rocks near the shore are usually slippery.  A fall can knock you unconscious and prevent you from being able to save yourself.

·         Consider bringing a whistle. If you are in trouble, it could help alert nearby people.

·         Keep kids within arm's reach.  Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 14 and under.

·         Don't dive in. Two-thirds of catastrophic neck injuries occur in open water and the sea.

 

Rivers

·         Snohomish County Code Requires life jackets and helmets on any watercraft on the Skykomish River from the area of Big Eddy to the river’s source. You can be cited for violating this code. (SCC 10.32)

·         Wear a river helmet.

·         River channels change from season to season.  With each high water, flood, or summer melt, trees, branches, and debris are moved around in the river, creating snags and strainers. A person caught in a snag (single tree or root ball) or strainer (multiple trees and branches) will be pinned by the force of the river current.

·         Don’t go into a river without training and knowledge. Seek out river professionals, guides who can show you how to use the river safely. Knowledgeable guides can point out dangerous areas.

 

Lakes and Coastal Waters

·         Lake and coastal water temperatures range from 55º F to 60º F.  Because the human body can cool down 25 times faster in cold water than air, hypothermia is a real danger in our Snohomish County waters.  A healthy adult can become exhausted and even unconscious in just 30 minutes in 55º F water.

·         Carry a tide table.  Beach and trailhead access can disappear with the rising tide.

·         Currents along the coastline change constantly throughout the day because of the tides and can overpower even the strongest swimmer.

·         Expect steep drop-offs at the water’s edge.

 

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