The following is an edited version of a press-release from King County:
Although the warm spell is over, more will come — and King County officials are urging caution to anyone visiting lakes, rivers, or Puget Sound where open water is still dangerously cold.
Warmer air temperatures don’t equate to warmer water temperatures. Most rivers and lakes have temperatures in the upper 40s to low 50s while Puget Sound’s water temperature is in the mid-40s, making cold-water shock a real concern for swimmers of all abilities.
Officials at multiple King County agencies – Public Health, Sheriff’s Office, and Natural Resources and Parks – encourage kayakers, boaters, rafters, and swimmers to be cautious and to always wear a life jacket in open water.
“Every year, we see tens of preventable drowning deaths in King County waters,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, Director of Public Health – Seattle & King County. “Even strong swimmers can quickly lose their energy in our cold waters. Remember to always wear a life jacket when on the water and avoid swimming during or after drinking alcohol.”
“As temperatures rise and we prepare for a sunny weekend, it’s easy to forget that the water can still be dangerously cold,” said Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall. “We want to remind everyone to stay vigilant and prioritize safety to ensure a fun and memorable time in the warmer weather ahead.”
“It’s natural for people and families to want to jump into rivers and lakes at the first sign of spring, not realizing how dangerous it can be,” said Christie True, Director of the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks. “This past winter’s flooding might have shifted logs, gravel, and other material around in a river, creating potential hazards at a swimming hole that weren’t there last summer.”
For safety information related to boating, swimming, rivers and pools, as well as discounts and information about lifejackets, go to kingcounty.gov/WaterSafety.