‘It’s going to be warm out, so just be careful’; How to stay safe on the water this summer

SPOKANE, Wash. — Temperatures are going to climb this week, and more people are anxious to get out of the house and kick off summer plans. However, it’s important to remember key safety tips before you get out on the water.

Every year, 3,500 to 4,000 people die from drowning accidents which averages to 10 deaths a day. It’s a scary reality but something that can be avoided with common sense safety practices.

“I know we’ve all been cooped up, so I’d say we have to get outside, have a great time,” said Matt Jorgensen, a captain with the Spokane Valley Fire Department. “Be with your friends and family, but safety for sure.”

Here’s some simple summer safety tips:

  • Wear a life jacket
  • Don’t drink alcohol
  • Try and go to a lake or river with someone who knows the area
  • Watch young kids very closely

Boulder Beach is a common spot people visit to splash, sunbathe and spend time on the beautiful Spokane River.

“I feel great because I missed when you were able to do this every day and be able to be out,” said Joseph Yarno-Morgan. He swam and fished at the beach on Sunday. “It felt nice because it’s really warm out today. It felt really nice and refreshing.”

“This is the first nice day we’ve really had,” said Rachael Pitts who also spent time at Boulder. “We’ve been stuck in our house for a year, so this is really nice to just to be able to get out.”

While people are anxious to get out, and the temperatures will be in the 90’s this week, that doesn’t mean the water will be that warm. Jorgensen also says people end up struggling more in cold water.

“That water is super cold. People don’t realize it,” he said. “You can get in trouble really fast, and if you don’t have a life jacket on or you’re stuck in that water, suddenly you’re surviving not swimming.”

Also, the water doesn’t have to be super deep to cause issues, and you can start struggling in seconds.

“It happens all the time,” Jorgensen said. “People will just be walking on the river, no life jacket and then they slip and now they’re getting swept down stream in the fast current.”

While the water can be dangerous, if you keep safety at the forefront, you can still have fun in the sun.

“It’s going to be warm out, so just be careful,” Jorgensen said. “Have fun.”