Hot weather, cold water: the King County Sheriff's Office would like to keep you from drowning

Saturday, August 19, 2023

From King County Sheriff's Office (KCSO)

With recent tragedies involving outdoor water activities, we want to remind you of the importance of water safety.
We reached out to Sergeant Rich Barton of the King County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit for the following words of advice to our communities.
Hot weather, cold water. The water in the river is not warming up even though the temperatures are. It may be 90-plus degrees outside, but the rivers can still be below 60. The temperature difference can cause cold water shock and drastic changes in breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. 

It also can cause a sudden gasp and rapid breathing, which creates a higher risk of drowning regardless of swimming ability. This applies to all waters.

The rivers are down to their extremely low levels right now. This does not mean they are safer. There are still hidden hazards and strong currents. Slippery rocks and uncertain footing can cause a fall or slippage.

Life jackets work, period. If you are a fair swimmer or non-swimmer, use a life jacket or stay out of the water.

Stand-up paddleboards are required to have a life jacket and whistle on the board, not necessarily worn. 
  • Do not use the attached leash if using a paddleboard on the river. Leave it off. The leash could get caught around an obstruction and hold the person in a bad situation.
  • If using the paddle board on lakes and the Puget Sound, use the leash.


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