Services Departments Government

Edward Nieto, Clackamas County Community Relations Specialist, 503-742-4334

06-05-15

Clackamas County

Media and Interested Parties

Clackamas County encourages water safety as temperatures rise this weekend

Clackamas County is encouraging safety on the water as large crowds are expected to head for county rivers and waterways over the next several days as temperatures approach or exceed 90 degrees. Visiting a beautiful county waterway can be a very enjoyable experience as the weather warms up, and the county wants to remind visitors to parks and rivers to be careful. The water in area rivers can be especially dangerous this time of year.

"Despite the warm temperatures, the water in the Clackamas and Sandy Rivers is still dangerously cold and can pose a threat to swimmers," said Clackamas County Parks and Forest Manager Rick Gruen. "Underestimating the coldness of the water and the swift currents can place even the most experienced swimmer in serious jeopardy."

All river users should come prepared with personal flotation devices (PFDs) that should be worn at all times while on the water. Swimmers are strongly advised to wear a life jacket. Deputies with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Marine Unit will enforce all boating laws, which include PFD rules. Boaters and people on rafts caught without a life jacket face fines of up to $260, and another $110 fine for not having whistles.

"Drowning in a river is almost always a preventable tragedy," said Lt. Robert Wurpes, who supervises the CCSO Water Rescue Units. "The best practice is to wear a life jacket, which can save swimmers who can quickly be overcome by cold, exhaustion, fear and injury," said Wurpes.

Important river safety tips include:

"The natural environment of being on the river and in the hot sun causes its own kind of impairment," said Tiffany Hicks, a drug and alcohol prevention planner for the county’s Health, Housing, and Human Services Department. "When alcohol is added it enhances impairment and people feel intoxicated much quicker."

This will be the second full summer that the county’s amended ordinance allowing deputies to inspect personal items for alcohol in county parks will be in effect. Alcohol is only allowed with a permit in designated areas. People who refuse the inspections will be asked to leave the park.

In 2014, alcohol-related citations in Barton Park increased by 39 percent from the previous year and 387 percent at the Carver Boat Ramp specifically. In 2013, Clackamas County Commissioners approved funding to place additional deputies at the parks, which has led to an increase in officer-initiated investigations, and a decrease in calls for help to CCSO.

To learn about the county parks alcohol ban and other rules, visit www.clackamas.us/parks/.

For more information, members of the media or public may contact Nate Thompson, 503-785-5179.

River Enforcement 1 River Enforcement 2

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