While this week’s weather isn’t screaming “Summer!” that hasn’t stopped people from kayaking the Chetco River and dipping their feet in the ocean, and likely won’t dissuade some from using the Brookings Municipal Pool when it opens for public swimming on Saturday.
Soon, sunnier, warmer days will prevail and people will be flocking to local rivers and beaches. For many Memorial Day weekend was the unofficial beginning of summer and the water is calling but, please, be cautious.
Every summer people have drowned in Oregon’s rivers and ocean. Several years ago, three kayakers died on the Rogue River. In June the same year, a 6-year-old boy drowned on the Chetco River near Loeb State Park. In 2008, a young girl nearly drowned at the Brookings city pool. Earlier this month a woman died while paddle boarding on the Chetco.
Here are some basic safety tips, courtesy of local and state authorities.
•If you’re boating or rafting, make sure everyone has a properly-fitting life jacket. All children 12 and younger are required to wear a life jacket when the boat is under way.
•If you plan to go wade at the river’s edge, make sure you are wearing a life jacket, especially if you don’t know how to swim. Unseen drop-offs, combined with swift current, can easily take people by surprise.
•Always keep track of your friends and family when around the water.
•Before diving into the local swimming holes, check for submerged rocks, logs and hazards that may pose a danger.
•An overindulgence in alcohol is also something to avoid. More than half of all drowning fatalities involve alcohol consumption, authorities report.
•Last, but not least, we urge people, especially those watching over children, to learn basic CPR and first aid. Such skills often mean the difference between life and death.