Weather may be getting hot, but waters are still dangerously cold | Public Health Insider

Cold water can cause even the strongest swimmers to become incapacitated from cold-water shock, causing muscles to stop working within minutes of immersion in cold water. The best decision this time of year, especially for rivers, is to stay out.

  • Wednesday, May 31, 2017 11:30am
  • Life

The following is written by Carly Thompson for Public Health Insider:

After the long and rainy winter, we know many of you are itching to spend some time outside, in and on the water, soaking up some rays (with at least SPF 15 on, of course). But, before jumping in, know the risks. The weather is warming up, but our area’s lakes, rivers and open water are still extremely cold. Cold water can cause even the strongest swimmers to become incapacitated from cold-water shock, causing muscles to stop working within minutes of immersion in cold water. The best decision this time of year, especially for rivers, is to stay out.

Cold water, the wettest winter on record, and a Cascade Range snowpack that is well above average for the month of May have created particularly risky conditions this year causing rivers to be cold, fast and deep. Just this week King County has experienced tragedy and close calls: A young person drowned while swimming along the upper reaches of the south fork Snoqualmie River near North Bend. Another, young person remains in critical condition in a hospital after a near-drowning episode along the Green River upstream of Auburn. In 2016, 22 people in King County died in preventable drownings, a concerning increase from 17 preventable drowning deaths in 2015.

To stay safe throughout the summer follow these five water safety tips:

Wear a life jacket. Because nobody plans to drown

Always wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket when boating, tubing, rafting, swimming or other activities in or on lakes, rivers, open water, or pools without a lifeguard. Infants and children should always wear life jackets, “water wings” and “noodles” don’t count. Remember, when boating to wear your life jacket, if your life jacket is stowed somewhere on the boat, you may not be able to reach the life jacket in case of an emergency. For children 12 years old and younger, it’s the law on all vessels less than 19 feet.

You can borrow a lifejacket from lifejacket loaner stations at these locations: http://bit.ly/2qTLHCK

Find information on affordable life jackets here.

Swim where there’s a lifeguard

Only swim in areas with lifeguards. Many beaches in King County don’t have lifeguards until mid to late June, so wear a life jacket while swimming in those areas in the meantime. Check this list to see when your local beach will have lifeguards. Two beaches in Seattle will have lifeguards starting this week- those are Madrona Beach on Lake Washington and East Green Lake Beach. Consider going there!

Supervise children in or near water

Stay within touching distance of young children at all times when you are in or near the water. Avoid distractions and have adults take turns watching children near the water.

Do not use alcohol or drugs during water activities

Alcohol, marijuana, and water recreation don’t mix. Never use alcohol, marijuana, or other impairing drugs during water and boating activities or while supervising children around the water. Alcohol affects balance, coordination, and judgement. Exposure to sun and heat worsen these effects.

Learn to Swim: Including water safety and survival skills

In order to enjoy the water safely, learn swim strokes (you can start this weekend!), to float, and to tread water for at least 10 minutes. Also, learn first aid and CPR. Full CPR, which combines chest compressions and breaths, is best for a drowned person. Seconds count—the more quickly lifesaving CPR is started, the better the chances of recovery. Dial 911 in an emergency.

More in Life

Fishing derby set for April 28, courtesy of Buckley Kiwanis

Grab your fishing rod and head down to the pond at Uncle John’s RV Park.

“W is for Welcome: A celebration of America’s diversity”

The kid down the block looks nothing like you. His parents don’t… Continue reading

The power of the powwow | Slideshow

Enumclaw High School and the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe put together the 23rd annual powwow last weekend.

Past the gushing, gruesome details ‘The Trauma Cleaner’ is worth a read

Wash your hands thoroughly. That’s good advice, no matter where you are.… Continue reading

While focusing on athletic endurance, this book also relates to everyday life

You need a shave. It’s been awhile and, though you’ve been grooming… Continue reading

Explores the Civil Rights Movement with Congressman John Lewis | Pierce County READS

Congressman Lewis of Georgia is one of the key figures of the Civil Rights Movement and the only remaining speaker alive from the Big Six Leaders that organized the 1963 March on Washington.

We often believe bad things only happen to others

It could never happen to you. Other people have problems. They don’t… Continue reading

Take a sneak peak into summer activities | Pierce County Parks and Recreation

Learn what summer activities are available for you, your family, and your children at the Summer Camp Preview Fair.

‘The Group’ is a must-read, valuable resource

‘Til death do you part. Did those words give you pause when… Continue reading

A modern fairytale with a twist

He did it on one knee. One knee, with a nervous grin… Continue reading

Enumclaw High hosts 7th annual Empty Bowls event

The event, held at Enumclaw High School, will help fund the Enumclaw Food Bank and Plateau Outreach Ministries.