Warm weather and cold water: how to stay safe

As the days get warmer and summer gets closer, everyone has an itch to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather, but staying safe in the rushing rivers and hot sun should still be a priority, according to health authorities.

The rivers in the area are not warm enough to swim in yet. “Air temperatures may feel hot, and the water may feel or appear warm, but temperatures can be extremely cold below the surface. Hypothermia can quickly set in and overwhelm even the strongest of swimmers, becoming too weak to escape,” Recreation.gov states.

Rivers can be some of the most dangerous places to visit around this time, according to national park and recreation agencies, because of the high river levels and winter water temperatures continuing into spring. “Water-related accidents are among the most common cause of death in some of our nation’s most visited parks, forests and waterways,” Recreation.gov also states. Even a swim across the river could have deadly consequences.

Many water related accidents happen suddenly without warning. Swift Water trainee and former Douglas County Search and Rescue partner Thomas McGregor says, “The river is higher, water is colder, with stronger currents making it a very dangerous time of the year. The most dangerous scenario is flowing and swift waters mixed with branches and trees sticking out. Getting smacked up against something and then being stuck is the worst position to be in. People need to realize that the weather may feel right, but the waters are still carrying winter water to the ocean and can pose great danger.”

The ocean also poses a water threat and is a great safety concern, according to the Oregon Coast Visitors Association.  “When visiting the scenic Oregon coast and participating in recreational activities, safety should be a concern. Tragic water accidents happen quickly. The most common reason for aquatic mishaps is a lack of safety knowledge.” The association says to swim parallel when in the current, don’t play on large logs, don’t swim alone, and protect your head, neck, and spine if in the ocean.

Another important thing to remember as the weather gets warmer is to keep the skin protected. Some people tend to forget to use a sunscreen protection, but the sun can easily damage anyone’s skin leaving lasting damage. “However, the sun’s most serious threat is that it is the major cause of skin cancer which is now the most common of all cancers. Doctors believe that most skin cancers can be avoided by preventing sun damage,” ClevlandClinic.org states. Using sunscreen on the face can not only prevent burning but also prevent aging and wrinkles, according to SkinCancer.org.

Another great tip to remember when going out to enjoy the outdoors is to help keep the wilderness clean by taking a trash bag or plastic bag along on an outing to pick up any trash seen. Pop cans, plastics, and cigarette butts tend to get left at local sites and a simple bag of removed debris can begin to create a difference in the local recreational sites.

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