SPOKANE, Wash. - With summer nearing, you're probably feeling the temptation to hit some of the rivers and lakes on our area. But the marine unit with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office wants to warn you about the dangers this time of year, if you're going to be in the water.
Marine unit deputies said they see the same thing every year. People see the weather looking brighter and want to take advantage of our local rivers and lakes, but the water is still cold and the currents are too strong.
Looks can be deceiving. We're getting closer to summer and temperatures are warming, but the water isn't. The Spokane County Sheriff's Office has some advice for you - be smart, stay safe - and know what youre dealing with.
We were only on the water about ten minutes on silver lake before deputy jim ebel and I found one boater not making smart decisions on the water.
"So that's the classic kind of contact there on some of these smaller lakes - no life jacket on board, no sound device," said Deputy Jim Ebel, Spokane County Sheriff's Office Marine Unit.
Both are extremely important if you're out on a lake or river.
"We live in the part of the country where the weather can come in real fast - you can see the accumulating clouds now. The winds, especially for our small boats - the winds can come up real fast, capsize your boat," Deputy Ebel said.
Next thing you know, you're in the water.
"If that life jacket is not on your body, if it's in the water next to you - I can tell you from experience, it's extremely hard to put that life jacket on once you're in the water," Deputy Ebel said.
Rule of thumb - whatever the temperature, the water can be anywhere from ten to 20 degrees colder.
"A lot of the blood flow from the extremities - your arms and your legs, you're not going to be able to use those to swim very effectively," Deputy Ebel said.
Eventually, you'll get hypothermia. If you don't have a life jacket to help you, then what?
"Water temperature zaps your energy faster than anything else out there," Deputy Ebel said.
Deputy Ebel has been patrolling Spokane waters for more than five years. He can tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly.
"The many bodies that I've recovered - both out of the lakes and especially out of the Spokane river - not a single one of them was wearing a life jacket," Deputy Ebel said.
The fine for not wearing a life jacket on a boat in Spokane County is $99. But the price you pay if you fall in without one, could cost you your life.
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