PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The combination of high temps and the allure of a cooling swim often spells trouble in the early part of the warm weather season. This week, with expected high temps into the 90s, will send more people to the cool water.
But those river temperatures are a lot colder than you might think.
Right now, the Clackamas River is about 50 degrees. The Willamette River is about 60. So if you decide to jump in or fall from a raft, your body instinctively reacts to the icy plunge and you could drown.
“The first thing it does is you usually gasp and take in water, not air, while under water,” Lt. Mike Bauer with the Clackamas Fire and Rescue Team told KOIN 6 News. “Then you’re in trouble. We expect to see that happening to people this week ahead.”
There is also a lot of debris in the water that you can hit or get caught on. A raft, boat, inner tube or kayak could get snagged and flipped. That’s why a life jacket is so important, no matter how old you are or what your swimming ability is.
People on the water should have a plan for what to do in an emergency. Have a rope or something to help pull someone to safety. Tie a whistle to your swimsuit so you could blow it if you got in to trouble.
Bottom line: The water is cold. Prepare and stay safe.