WEST LINN, Ore. (KOIN) — Rescuers say they’re busier than ever this year as people seek out lakes and rivers to beat the heat.
KOIN 6 reporter Lindsay Nadrich spent Wednesday afternoon on the lower Willamette River to see how Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue members train for water rescues.
TVF&R firefighters said they’re seeing more people than ever on waterways in the region due to hotter-than-normal weather and the pandemic causing people to seek out new activities. Firefighters said they get multiple calls for help on hot days.
“I think there’s been more emergencies probably in the last six months to a year, more drownings, more deaths than normal,” said TVF&R Lt. Robin Peters.
The team trains constantly to be prepared for all types of call but there are steps people can take on their own to stay safe on the water. Experts encourage you to avoid swimming alone, know how long you’ll be out, stay hydrated, limit alcohol consumption and pay attention to landmarks so if something happens, rescuers will know where to go. If you fall into the river, keep your feet forward going downstream in order to watch for any hazards or rocks and use your feet to push off of them.
Firefighters said it’s especially important to pay attention to your surroundings, be aware of other boats and swimmers and, most importantly, always wear a life jacket.