Go wet and wild — and stay safe — on the water this weekend

May 14, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 11:50 a.m. May 14, 2010

Springtime sunshine will lure residents in Issaquah and across King County to lakes, streams and rivers in the days ahead.

King County Sheriff’s Office leaders reminded people to practice water safety. Most King County drownings — 56 percent — occur in April, May and July.

“While the weather will be great, the rivers and lakes of King County are still very cold,” Sheriff Sue Rahr said in a news release. “And the rivers are fast-moving, and extremely dangerous.”

Furthermore, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started releasing water from the Howard Hanson Dam on Wednesday. The added water means flows on the Green River will be high through at least Saturday night.

Fast-moving currents can pull unsuspecting users under tress and logjams left from the winter, and lead to drowning.

Despite balmy temperatures and abundant sunshine, waterways remain cold from snowmelt-off, so hypothermia is a problem. Hypothermia affects everyone, regardless of age, size or experience. Officials recommend thermal protection for adventurous types taking to the water.

Plus, lifeguards have not been assigned to designated swimming areas yet.

Boaters should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved lifejacket. Officials also recommend a life jacket for folks floating on inner tubes.

Everyone younger than 12 years old must wear a life jacket while on any boat less than 19 feet long. Every boat must have a lifejacket for everyone on board.

“We want King County residents to have a great time outdoors this summer,” Rahr said. “But use common sense and stay safe.”

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