Kootenai Co. authorities issue reminder to recreate safely this Memorial Day weekend


KOOTENAI CO., Idaho — Due to the unseasonably dry and warm weather, it’s not surprising if you’d want to be outside this weekend, enjoying the beauty that Kootenai County has to offer. However, the Sheriff’s Department would like to remind you to be safe on the water and in the backcountry this weekend.

It’s anticipated that there will be more boaters on the water and more people out enjoying the National Forest this upcoming weekend. As a result, the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office has started its marine patrols on the waterways, and the Backcountry Deputies will be working in the National Forest.

The marine patrols will be on the waterways promoting boating safety, educating boaters and conducting enforcement as necessary. Because it is the beginning of the boating season, the Marine Deputies will be mainly focusing on education, but there will be zero tolerance for Boating Under the Influence and reckless boating activity. The goal is to ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience on the water.

Some things to be aware of on the water this time of year: even though it has been warm and is expected to be warm this weekend, the water is still very cold. Extended exposure to this cold water can cause hypothermia.

Additionally, use caution as you are traveling across the waterways, as there are still hazards on and below the surface due to the spring run-off.

The Post Falls Dam is still open and the current flow through the dam is causing a dangerous current both above and below the dam. Boats and anyone in or near the water on the Spokane River should use caution as the current can pull you under the surface. The Kootenai County Sheriff recommends that life jackets be worn while on or near these waterways.

While in the backcountry, there are some steps that you can take to keep yourself safe.

First, make a plan and let someone know what your plan is. Ensure that your cell phones are charged and on. Most areas will not have cell service, but if you become lost or missing, this device will assist in locating you.

Make sure you have food and water with you. Most of the roadways are open and clear of snow, but there are still areas that may not be passable. If you come upon these areas, turn around. The snow is very soft, which may cause you to become stuck and stranded.

If you have any questions about rules or regulations or have questions about the backcountry or the waterways you can contact the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office at 208-446-1300 and ask for one of the Recreational Safety Deputies.

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