Be prepared before you hit the river

Be prepared before you hit the river

SPOKANE, Wash. - This could be a very busy week for water rescue crews with hot weather and the busy 4th of July weekend, and authorities have a warning for anyone who plans to go near the water to know what you're getting into and be prepared for the worst.

The Spokane River is moving fast right now and some popular areas along the river can be more dangerous than you think.

Just around the bend and upstream from the Bowl and Pitcher is a big sign warning boaters there are hazardous rapids ahead. If you don't have the right equipment that's where you need to get out of the river.

Take a look at the current conditions and you'll see why. Right now, the Spokane River is running about 6,200 cubic feet per second, still under the influences of spring runoff, and at that flow, both the Bowl and Pitcher and the Devil's Toenail further down stream are Class 3 rapids. That means boaters need life vests, helmets and experience with white water conditions.

Back at the Bowl and Pitcher there's a big submerged rock and if your boat goes over the top of it, your raft curls into the hole below it. That water is actually flowing back upstream and if you don't keep your boat balanced, the hydraulic will peel that boat out from underneath you.

Dan Gore said that happened to him at the same spot just two weeks ago.

"Our oarsman had done it some 20-30 times, he had done it a week before but the river changes so the conditions that you're expecting may not be there," he said.

The key thing is you can't just have life jackets in your boat, raft, kayak or canoe. You have to be wearing them, and along with life jackets you need helmets. Even a bike helmet would work, because as these flows go down they'll be exposing more and more rocks.