Cold water in Clark County rivers and lakes heightens need to swim safely
Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County Health Officer
Vancouver, WA Ė With warmer and dryer weather predicted for the July 4 holiday weekend, swimming is sure to be on the minds of many. But even on hot days, most rivers and lakes in Southwest Washington remain cold in early summer.
Cold water − especially when high or swift − can immobilize even the strongest swimmer in minutes. If your plans for the July 4 holiday include a trip to local swimming hole, here are some safety tips:
- When possible, choose a supervised area with trained lifeguards. Note: Klineline Pond in Salmon Creek Regional Park is the only place Clark County provides lifeguards, typically from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, July 1 through Labor Day. Visitors to Klineline Pond can use life jackets from the loaner station.
- Know the water. Washington waters are cold enough to cause hypothermia even on the hottest summer day. Hypothermia can weaken even strong swimmers.
- Know your limits. Drowning often occurs when a swimmer tires.
- Wear a life jacket when swimming anywhere without lifeguards or whenever on a boat, jet ski, inner tube or other water sports equipment.
- Ensure children wear lifejackets. Inflatable toys and mattresses will not keep children safe. By law, children 12 and younger must wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket or vest on all vessels 18 feet or smaller.
- Never leave children unsupervised in or near water, even for a minute. Drowning can happen swiftly and silently. Supervision requires complete attention, even if other adults are present.
- Always avoid alcohol when swimming or boating.
- Avoid swimming in potentially dangerous areas such as fast-flowing rivers or ocean beaches with riptides.
- Donít dive into shallow water or unfamiliar swimming holes.
- Cover your spa when not in use. Ponds, five-gallon buckets and wading pools also are drowning hazards for young children. If you have a pool, be sure a barrier, such as a fence, prevents unauthorized entry.