Local News

Be safe and avoid being rescued -- or recovered -- from the river

SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane River safety

It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day Monday and the Spokane River is a great place to cool off. Before you jump in the Spokane County Sheriff's Office wants you to remember to take a few easy precautions to stay safe on the water.

You can never talk too much about safety; on Sunday the sheriff's office rescued a man who flipped his kayak near Spokane Valley. And safety on the Spokane River is paramount. Close to a dozen people who entered the river last year did not plan ahead and paid the price with their lives.

"Last year all the recoveries that we had, meaning people that did not survive, none of them had a life jacket on," Spokane County Sheriff's Deputy Craig Chamberlin said.

Chamberlin added one thing to keep in mind is that the water is still cold. A sudden dunk into the river can result in cold water immersion.

"Basically the shock of the cold water confuses the brain and the limbs and that's when they get out of control and drown and that's prior to hypothermia," he said.

Right now the river is running a little low so another thing to watch out for is debris floating down stream or collecting on the banks. While plenty of areas on the river are calm and shallow there are portions that can get pretty bumpy, which is what one kayaker found out Sunday.

"He was very thankful that he was wearing his life jacket 'cause we did have to rescue him," Chamberlin said.

A rescue at least, not a recovery. In a few areas of the river life jackets aren't required but the sheriff's department would like everyone to wear on just in case or be prepared to pay for it. Fines for not having a personal flotation device can run up to $50.

"It's not about the ticket it's about the safety of folks on the river. We want people to enjoy the river, come out and have a good time, we just don't want to have any recoveries," Chamberlin said.