SFD Stresses the Importance of Wearing a Personal Flotation Device

AC Brian Schaeffer #509-625-7002

Thursday, July 28, 2016 at 7:23 p.m.

The Spokane Fire Department says today’s successful water rescue serves as an excellent reminder for individuals to wear a personal flotation devices (life jackets) when recreating in water.

Members of the Spokane Fire Department Water Rescue Team, assisted by the Spokane Valley Fire Department, rescued a man stranded in the Spokane River at the Bowl & Pitcher day use area of Riverside State Park. The man had been kayaking when he came out of his kayak sometime this afternoon. He spent an undetermined amount of time sitting in the water on a rock in order to keep from being swept downstream. The man was wearing a personal floatation device, which helped allow him to reach the relative safety of the rock.

The Spokane Fire Department would like to remind users of the river and other waterways that despite the seasonal lower water levels, the water can be a very unforgiving place. Personal floatation devices are encouraged for all persons enjoying the river.

Water safety precautions:

Visitors must be cautious as an outing to our area creeks, lakes and rivers can easily turn deadly.

  • The safest decision may be to not enter the water. Think about the risks when swimming, boating, inner tubing or rafting due to dangers from currents, logs, log jams and cold temperatures.
  • Avoid prolonged exposure to cold water which can lead to hypothermia. Hypothermia can incapacitate anyone, overcoming their swimming skills and ultimately lead to drowning. Hypothermia occurs when the body’s core temperature is dramatically lowered. Among other results, there is a loss of strength and muscular coordination as well as mental confusion and often erratic behavior.
  • Make sure children are under constant supervision regardless of a child’s swimming skill level or depth of water. If near a river or a lake make sure to keep them away from the banks where they can easily fall in, or where erosion can result in the bank collapsing. The use of flotation devices and inflatable toys cannot replace parental/caregiver supervision.
  • If you see someone fall into the river or drowning, immediately call 9-1-1. DO NOT attempt a rescue by entering the water. A rope or flotation device such as an inflated toy or sports ball, or even a Styrofoam ice chest can be thrown to the victim to assist them.
  • All swimmers, boaters, rafters, and kayakers should wear approved personal floatation devices and necessary safety protection (e.g. helmets, shoes, thermal protection).
  • Never use alcohol or other impairing drugs during water and boating activities or while supervising children around the water.