Water safety reminders from Spokane’s water rescue team

SPOKANE, Wash. — Temperatures are heating up to near 90s Friday. You might want to cool down in the water. Several public pools are closed this summer because of COVID-19, which leaves us with our local rivers and lakes.

While we’re fortunate in the Inland Northwest to be near several spots to swim and float, we need to be careful.

Mother Nature can deceive you. Our local rivers are dangerous, if you’re not responsible.

Spokane Fire Department’s water rescue team has already responded to more than 15 calls this year, they don’t want to add it that number.

“It’s unfortunate, but we’ve seen many people who have lost their lives in the Spokane River. Some of it is due to alcohol, some of it is from not wearing a live vest, some of it is due to a combination of the two,” said Jason Keen, SFD water rescue team.

“It looks nice and calm here, but it’s not going to take long before you get swept out and could potentially be in trouble out there,” Keen said.

Rescuers said that not realizing the conditions is a mistake people make too often.

“Our river temperatures are anywhere between 50 degrees and 60 degrees. It is often times a lot colder than a lake, because of the moving water,” Keen said.

Even on 90 or 100-degree days, that water isn’t warm.

According to SFD, the best thing you can do for yourself to stay safe is to get a life jacket.

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. You just want to make sure you have one that fits and is secure.

“On 99% of our rescues, people are not wearing a life jacket,” Keen said.

SFD’s water rescue team is out weekly, practicing and keeping an eye on the water.

“Judging the conditions and the safety of it. We’re making sure that we are prepared so that if any 911 calls come in, we are very familiar with the river and we can respond quickly and appropriately,” Keen said.

They hope they don’t have to rescue anyone this summer, but they’re ready for any call that comes in.

“Practice pulling victims into their kayaks. As if we were going to do a live rescue out there,” Keen said.

For more water safety tips, you can visit the Washington State Parks Foundation’s website HERE.