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King County kicks off river safety campaign in advance of Fourth of July holiday

The promise of long summer days in the Pacific Northwest might have residents thinking about heading out for a quick swim or raft trip – but it definitely has King County health and safety officials raising awareness about river safety.

Even though the air is warmer, the rivers are still cold and the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, Public Health – Seattle & King County, and King County Sheriff’s Office are urging recreationalists to exercise caution around open water.

Public health and safety officials this week are kicking into high gear a campaign to heighten awareness of river dangers and what people can do to help prevent drownings. A mailer that urges life jacket use and provides other river safety information – including resources for affordable and discounted lifejackets -- will be sent to more than 30,000 addresses within about one mile of major King County river recreation areas.

And new signage is being installed at riverside recreation areas. The yellow signs – reading: “Warning, River is Dangerous” – are going up at more than a dozen popular river put-in locations on King County Parks land.

“Rivers are dynamic systems, and they are always changing,” said Christie True, Director of the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks. “Warm weather and cold water can be a dangerous combination, and we urge all river users to exercise a high degree of caution and awareness when recreating on any of King County’s beautiful rivers.”

“We want you to have fun and also return home safely from river recreation, so please use caution and wear a PFD on the water,” said Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County  “If you want to swim, there are much safer places to be – visit a local pool or lifeguarded beach instead.”

Before venturing into open water, King County health and safety officials remind river users to:

 

  • Wear a life jacket;
  • Do not use alcohol and drugs which can impair your judgment in an emergency;
  • Keep children within reach, always watching them closely near and in water;
  • Choose safer swimming options with lifeguards present, such as a beach, lake or pool; and
  • Know river conditions before getting in the water.

The County’s river safety campaign is funded by the King County Office of Risk Management’s Loss Control Fund.

For more information on river safety and drowning prevention, visit the King County river safety web page atwww.kingcounty.gov/riversafety.

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