As you take advantage of the Spokane River to cool off, keep these safety tips in mind

SPOKANE, Wash..— One man lost his life in the Spokane River yesterday evening. According to firefighters, that man lost his hat and he went into the water to grab it, without a life jacket. Spokane Firefighters believe the current pulled him underwater.

Meanwhile, our community is working through this heatwave, and there’s no better way to cool off than by taking advantage of the Spokane River. On the heels of that drowning, we reached out to the experts to learn how you can venture out, safely and confidently.

Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer says the number of drownings we’ve so far this year is on par with years past.

“If you get into trouble, we’re going to risk everything to save a savable life. You’re putting all our responders in jeopardy when you skip a step, especially with personal floatation devices,” Chief Schaeffer said.

Most of the incidents all have a few things in common…

  • Alcohol and/or drugs
  • Using a floatation device or boat that isn’t made for the water in Spokane
  • Not wearing a life jacket, equipped with a whistle

It’s always a good idea to team up with others and choose your location wisely.

“It’s a beautiful hot day and nothing better than being on the river to go for a little paddle and jump in the water and hopefully see some wildlife and enjoy the scenery,” said Saiha Schneider, who was out on the Plese Flats to paddleboard with family.

Part of the reason Schneider chose this area is because of the calm, flat water.

“I do a fair amount of white water as well, and you have to take it seriously. It’s kind of enjoying the elements but also respecting them and being safe, being smart,” added Schneider.

If you see someone struggling, call 911 immediately.

Then remember… “Reach, Throw, Row, Go.”

Reach if you can. Throw something if you have something. Row to them if you have a boat or can get help from another. Go, only if you’re a trained professional.

“Oftentimes when people are struggling or drowning, there’s a really tunnel vision period in your body where you will do anything to stay alive and that may include pushing down a responded,” warned Chief Shaeffer.

Wearing a lifejacket at all times should be a non-negotiable. It is the law on all Washington State waterways.

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