Several Local Agencies Partner in Effort to Shore up Residents’ Drowning Prevention Effort

Several Local Agencies Partner in Effort to Shore up Residents’ Drowning Prevention Effort

Jul 25, 2012

Spokane Riverkeeper, Spokane Regional Health District, Spokane County Sheriff and local businesses stress importance of life jackets, swimming safety measures

For more information, contact Kim Papich, SRHD Public Information Officer (509) 324-1539

SPOKANE, Wash. – July 24, 2012 – As recent news reports make clear, swimming and floating in open waters, especially on the Spokane River at higher stream flows, can be hazardous, especially for inexperienced swimmers who don’t use life jackets.
Several local organizations and businesses are joining efforts this week with a common safety message—preventing future drownings is as simple as residents putting on their life jackets. It is a precaution that is as easy as buckling a seat belt while in a vehicle.
Spokane Riverkeeper, part of a network of 200 water protection groups worldwide, is emphasizing this message as part of Swimmable Action Day this Thur., July 26. In addition to recognizing the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, the day is also meant to encourage citizens to safely celebrate access to clean, swimmable waters locally.

The Spokane River is a great resource and an ideal way to not only cool off in the summer, but to enjoy nature. When residents do not take every precaution to remain safe while enjoying the river though, it detracts from its swimmable qualities. That’s why Spokane Riverkeeper and the General Store, a Spokane institution, want to make sure people are being as safe on the river as possible. For one day only, on July 26, residents can visit the General Store, 2424 North Division, and receive 40 percent off all life jackets in stock.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists failure to wear a life jacket as among the top reasons people drown. Others include a lack of swimming lessons or ability, alcohol consumption and a lack of supervision. People should also be aware that it’s illegal to not be wearing a lifejacket while on watercraft in the Spokane River, including on canoes, inflatable rafts or inner tubes, and kayaks.
“Wearing a life jacket is not just a legal issue, it’s a lifesaving issue,” said Deputy Craig Chamberlin, public information officer for the Spokane County Sheriff’s office. “It’s better to be smart about what you’re doing and plan for the worst case scenario instead of having a bad situation arise.”
To help remind residents that a lifejacket must be worn in moving water on most parts of the Spokane River, the sheriff’s office, in partnership with Spokane Valley Police deputies, will conduct a roving patrol of the river this Sat., July 28, and cite residents who fail to wear a lifejacket, a $76 fine. The emphasis will begin at state line and continue to the Centennial Trail bridge just west of Plantes Ferry Park. It will pick up again at People’s Park and continue west, ending at Plese Flats.
Officers will also provide education to these residents, instilling that even though it is hot outside, the combination of warm air, cold water and hidden hazards and currents can get even the best swimmers into serious trouble.
Spokane Regional Health District echoes these recommendations and is partnering with Big 5 Sporting Goods stores to offer a 25 percent off coupon for life jackets, through Sept. 30, available on the health district Web site by clicking here.
The health district also offers these important life jacket tips:

  • Be prepared at all times by wearing a life jacket - you'll never know when you'll be tossed into the water.
  • Parents are powerful role models - if they wear life jackets, it's more likely their children will too.
  • Take life jackets, a rescue device, a cell phone, and someone who knows rescue breathing whenever you are out on the water.
  • Parents need to teach their children about the dangers of open water at rivers and beaches.
  • Many sporting goods stores will assist customers in selecting appropriate, properly-fitting life jackets.
  • Watch children closely around water - they can go under water quickly and quietly.

Spokane Regional Health District also developed a Designated Child Watcher Tag for use by parents who are supervising children during water recreation activities. The tag contains rescue steps and rescue breathing tips for use on children and infants. A whistle is attached for signaling the attention of children involved in water play.
The Designated Child Watcher tags are free and are being distributed at all four Pool World locations, at local community events, and are available by contacting Spokane Regional Health District at 324-1560 x4.
This is the time of year to enjoy open waters, including the Spokane River, but to do so safely. Through outreach and education, and collaboration with business partners, Spokane Riverkeeper, Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and Spokane Regional Health District hope that “safety first” becomes the motto of Spokane River recreation.