‘Too dangerous’: People worry about water safety with unpredictable conditions

SPOKANE, Wash. — As more people plan summer activities, not every waterway is safe. Water recreation businesses are taking new measures to navigate the season.

Fun Unlimited is telling people to check in daily if they want to float or paddle board in Spokane. They aren’t launching from their Spokane site just yet because the conditions are too unpredictable.

Even with these changes to their business model, people are still exploring local lakes and rivers on their own which has caused quite a few close calls this summer.

“It’s too dangerous,” said Rebecca Hutchinson.

She watched two people nearly drown on the Coeur d’Alene River this past weekend after getting tangled in a tree. Now, she isn’t taking any chances.

“This year, it was high and fast and freezing cold in July,” she said. “It’s not ready to be floated yet, and I think a lot of people were thinking — hey it’s July, time to go float the river but it’s not ready.”

Some people took a chance on Tuesday floating The Spokane River, but even longtime water enthusiast Shain McPherson is taking it easy.

“You get in the water right now, you’re going to have the gasp reflex, it’s super cold and it’s super high right now,” he said.

He’s floating a lot less, and both are worried about people not wearing lifesaving gear.

“Wear a life jacket,” Hutchinson pleaded. “There were so many people not wearing life jackets.”

“They’re taking their life into their own hands,” McPherson said. “It costs you $20 to $40 for a life jacket and $20 to $40 for a tube. Your life’s worth more than that.”

He would like to see law enforcement doing emphasis patrols to make sure people are wearing life jackets.

“They’re putting all this money into the river, they need to emphasize the safety,” he added.

They’re asking people to prioritize their safety if they go out on the water before someone loses their life in the current.

“Every single year, we end up losing people to the river,” McPherson said. “She’s very powerful. This year, more so than usual years.”

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