AMR rescue technician shares water safety tips ahead of heat wave

Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 10:44 PM PDT
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CLACKAMAS COUNTY Ore. (KPTV) - People are already flocking to the water at High Rocks Park to have fun in the sun before a heat wave hits this weekend.

“We were out here when it was 114 - there were people everywhere. This weekend probably too, they’ll be everywhere,” Craig Senef, who swims at High Rocks often, said.

While it seems like the most natural way to cool down during 90-degree temperatures, Clackamas County wanted to remind people water conditions aren’t like they were last year, and visitors at High Rocks noticed.

“Not as low as it was last summer. We were here like the whole 60 days. We were sitting on these rocks down here and they’re still covered,” Senef said.

Thanks to the heavy rains we’ve had this spring, water currents are much stronger and the water level is higher, so, there are a few key tips to keep in mind if you plan to swim in a lake or river to keep cool.

“Swim with a buddy, wear a life jacket and know your limits,” AMR River Rescue Technician, Wyatt Lovell, said. “We have swifter currents than a pool.”

Wyatt Lovell has been a River Rescue Technician with AMR for two summers now and said Thursday they had to help someone who underestimated the powerful current.

“Someone jumps in, they are looking at a point to get out, they swim for it, and they underestimate the current,” Lovell explained. “They get pushed down past it and at that point, they turn upstream to swim at it and they’re not able to, so we grab them.”

The Clackamas River was a cool 60 degrees Thursday, which is at least 30 degrees cooler than what we expect to see this weekend. Lovell said it’s important to remember going from one extreme to another can be a shock to the system.

“What can happen is your muscles can tense up, making it extremely hard to swim,” he said. “When you jump in, you take in a deep breath and what that can do, is you flood your throat with water.”

If you don’t have a life jacket of your own, AMR loans them out free of charge at parks like High Rocks and Glenn Otto.