How do you know it’s officially summer? The cloud cover? The guys in flip-flops? The fact you’ve replaced your jacket with a sweatshirt?
While those are all good indicators, the surest sign that summer is upon us is the hot weather-cold water warning King County Public Health just sent out.
With hot weather expected for the weekend, King County officials are urging recreational river and lake users to be extremely careful if heading out on the water.
Temperatures in the region are expected to climb into the 80s over the weekend, and possibly into the 90s by early next week. Sunny skies and summer temperatures typically draw more people to local rivers, lakes and even Puget Sound to cool off, but officials caution that water bodies remain very cold. River temperatures can still be in the 40-degree range due to snow melt – and lakes aren’t that much warmer.
What’s more, as rivers begin to drop in the summer, branches, wood and rocks that were moved around by winter storms are exposed, creating additional hazards.
King County, Public Health – Seattle & King County, and the King County Sheriff’s Office remind kayakers, boaters, rafters, swimmers and other river users to check conditions and scout rivers thoroughly for hazards before entering the water.
“We don’t want any tragedies,” said King County Sheriff John Urquhart. “I urge folks to think twice before going into the water. Don’t drink, and always wear a life jacket. This will help you stay safe and come out of the river or lake alive!”
“Rivers are dynamic systems and are inherently dangerous places to play– and the combination of hot weather and cold water creates added safety risks,” said Christie True, Director of the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks (DNRP). “It is important that everyone thinking about going out on the water be aware of these conditions and always wear a life jacket.”
“Every year, we see tragic and preventable drowning’s on our local rivers,” said Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “Please use a life jacket if you go on the river. For safer places to swim, take advantage of local pools or lifeguarded beaches.”
For more information on river safety and drowning prevention, visit the King County river safety web page at www.kingcounty.gov/riversafety.
Be safe out there, kids.