Paddling fatalities trending up in Oregon

SALEM, Ore. – Five recent drownings in Oregon have state officials sounding the alarm.

According to the Oregon Marine Board, there have been five boating fatalities in Oregon during the COVID-19 pandemic this spring. All of the deaths have two things in common: cold water and not wearing life jackets.

As Oregonians head to the water this May, OMB said people should be prepared to face cold water, despite warm air temperatures. Not being ready could prove to be fatal, especially for people in canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards.

“We are concerned,” said Randy Henry, Boating Safety Program Manager for the Marine Board. “People are anxious to get out and have fun, but water is serious business. If you go boating, wear your life jacket, buckle it up, and make sure it’s a snug fit. Always dress appropriately, and if you’re paddling, dress for the water. A dunking this time of year can be deadly.”

The OMB said the five people who died recently all fell over unexpectedly into cold water, creating a trend “unlike what the Marine Board has seen in past years.”

According to the OMB, paddlers are encouraged to wear life jackets at all times. If you’re new to paddling, you’re highly encouraged to take an online paddling course.

During the pandemic, boating access is changing frequently. You can visit the interactive Boat Oregon Map for more information.

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