King County officials urge river safety as temperatures rise

May 22, 2012

By Staff

More sunshine and balmier temperatures in the forecast mean more people heading to area rivers.

King County officials urge recreational river users to use caution due to the effects of significantly greater-than-average mountain snowpack on waterways.

Even though air temperatures continue to rise, rivers, lakes and Puget Sound all remain cold, and recreationists should use caution around open water.

Officials recommended kayakers, boaters, rafters and other river users check conditions and scout rivers thoroughly for hazards before getting in the water.

“Rivers are dynamic systems, and they are always changing,” King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks Director Christie True said in a statement. “Warm weather and cold water can be a dangerous combination, and we urge all river users to exercise a high degree of caution and awareness when recreating on any of King County’s beautiful rivers.”

King County leaders adopted a measure last spring to require personal flotation devices for users along the Raging, Snoqualmie, Tolt, Cedar, Green, Skykomish and White rivers in unincorporated areas. The measure expired in October.

“If you’re looking to swim, there are much safer places to be than in the rivers, such as our local pools and lifeguarded beaches,” Dr. David Fleming, director and health officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County, said in a statement. “If you choose to enjoy the rivers for other recreational activities, we want you to return home safely. Please use caution and wear a PFD on the water.”

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