Oregon issues low-water alert for paddlers

The Oregon Marine Board has issued an advisory cautioning paddlers and floaters about low-water levels statewide.

During the summer, lower water levels create safety challenges for paddlers and floaters. The board offers the following tips on how to have fun and stay safe:

• Always float with a friend, especially in paddlecraft or float tubes. Have at least two boats or float devices, and a plan if you become separated. Always give detailed information to a friend or family member about where you’re going and when you expect to return. Also, put contact information on your craft so if you get separated, the craft can be returned.

• Always keep a sharp lookout. Routinely scan from left to right and right to left for logs, submerged objects, and the direction the current is carrying you. Maneuver away from objects well ahead of time.

• Stay well clear of log jams and strainers (root wads, trees, branches, logs). They allow water through them, but can catch and entrap paddlers underwater, entangle lines, and easily puncture float tubes or pool toys not designed for river use.

• Read the water: Where is there whitewater? Where does the water eddy? These indicate what’s below the surface.

• Scout ahead to determine the safest course when boulders, gravel bars, or fallen trees and root wads are present. 

• When in doubt, take the boat over and around an obstruction.

• Stick to rivers that are classified as I or II, if you have a medical condition or are new to river running or floating.

• When running Class III or higher rapids, a helmet, properly fitting life jacket, a throw bag and secured gear are important. The marine board advocates that even people floating in single innertubes or pool toys wear a life jacket. 

•On reservoirs and lakes, sharp drop-offs are a given. Tree stumps, boulders and fallen trees may not be visible. Take special care when operating near the banks, where many of these obstructions lie just below the surface. And expect banks to be unstable.

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