What people need to know before cooling off in a river or lake d - KPTV - FOX 12

What people need to know before cooling off in a river or lake during a heat wave

Posted: Updated: Jun 26, 2015 08:48 PM
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Local rivers and lakes will be packed this week with Oregonians seeking out relief from another heat wave.

The vast majority of drownings could be prevented by a life jacket, according to local lifeguards.

They also remind swimmers to be aware of their surroundings and be prepared for local swimming holes to be different.

Experts say swimmers visiting local rivers, lakes and swimming holes should be aware that water levels are lower than normal this year, and there may be hazards like logs and other debris under the water's surface.

Lifeguards encourage swimmers to use what's called the “safe swimmer position” in local rivers – floating on your back, facing forward, with your feet in front of you so you're able to kick off from any obstruction in the water.

If you find yourself caught in a strong current unexpectedly, don't panic and don't put your feet down, or they could get trapped by a rock or log.

“Stay calm, go on your back, put your feet up and forward where you can see your feet and just let the current take you,” Scott Stafford, an AMR lifeguard and lead instructor, explained. “Sooner or later, the current will relax enough for you to swim to shore.”

If you see someone get into trouble in the water, toss them a flotation device or something to grab onto instead of going into the water to help.

“The biggest problem we have is that when people go after someone to help out they end up becoming a victim themselves,” Stafford said.

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when you're cooling off near the water:

-Look before you leap. Underwater obstacles can cause significant injury or death.
-Never swim alone. Always swim with others, preferably in a supervised or lifeguarded area.
-Keep children under active supervision at all times.
-Wear a life jacket. They are simple to use and can prevent most drowning events.

Experts recommend everyone wear a life jacket while you're in or around water.

Also, alcohol and water don't mix.

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