Don’t let the summer dates on the calendar or the recent warm weather fool you: The waters of the Wild Rivers Coast are still running fast and cold. We always urge caution when playing on the rivers, but this year that warning has to be more clear.
Remember those very wet days at the beginning of June? That water is still making its way downstream. As a result, the Chetco and our other rivers – where many of us love to play on summer weekends – are still dangerously swift and spring-time cold.
That means using common sense along the river, both for yourself and for any children that might be in your care. Here are some of the most common tips:
•Assess swimming skills before you let anyone go in the water, even to wade. If someone doesn’t know how to swim, they should stay out of the water – and check into swimming lessons at the Brookings City Pool. (There are scholarships available this year for needy children.)
•Use the buddy system. Everyone in your party should have someone who is keeping tabs on them, and someone they are watching.
•Do some training. Show children how slippery the rocky river bottom can be. Point out those dangerous spots where the current hits a big rock, and can easily trap and drown someone. Teach newcomers how to float safely if they are caught in deep or swift water.
•Require lifejackets for anyone in a kayak, canoe or other flotation toy that might be going down any kind of rough water. (And so far this year, it’s all rough water!)
•Don’t mix alcohol and river safety. Your impaired judgment can endanger both yourself and others.
Summer flows and temperatures often make the Chetco a mellow place for summertime fun – but not so far this year. Please be careful!