River safety warnings as warm weather approaches

Josephine County, Ore. — While it might not be summer just yet, temperatures are expected to heat up this weekend, which means people may be hitting the river. But it’s important to stay safe.

According to Rural Metro Fire, this time last year the agency was already responding to drownings. Now the agency is reminding you to be safe, be smart, and be educated.

“Swimming areas that people think they can that – oh, I can swim across that river and go hang on the other side. But they are reluctant when they get swept down the river because of how fast it’s moving or how cold the water is at that time,” said Lieutenant Tom Davidson, Rural Metro Fire.

May is the beginning of drowning season, according to Rural Metro Fire.

“You add cold, you add fatigue, and you add that distance that people are not prepared to handle because they’re not strong enough as they thought they were. They end up getting fatigued and then they have a hard time getting back,” said Division Chief Austin Prince, Rural Metro Fire.

The agency says these events happen, simply because people do not educate themselves on river safety.

“There’s a couple of spots out in here where the water is deceptively fast and the water is quite cold,” Division Chief Prince said.

The bottom line – think, before you hop in or it could cost you your life.

“The number of drownings that we have usually are not in dangerous spots of the river they’re in calm areas that most people think that they can swim across that river or they overestimate or their confidence level to do that,” said Lieutenant Davidson.

Water temperatures this time of year, can be around 20 to 30 degrees cooler than what you feel outside. Rural Metro Fire also said you shouldn’t rely on your cell phone in the case of an emergency, as many points on the river don’t get service.

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