WEAU | Eau Claire, Wisconsin | News

Rivers And Lakes Swimming Safety

By: Heidi Bohl Email
By: Heidi Bohl Email

The hot temperatures have many people headed towards lakes and rivers to help cool them down this summer.

It's a summer pastime that many enjoy.

Cooling off while taking a dip in the river.

But that fun can turn tragic in just seconds.

Scott Thiede says, "River systems are flowing water and flowing water is power. Folks that are on any waterways need to use caution."

Just last week the St. Croix Sheriff's Department says a woman drowned and 2 girls were rescued in the St. Croix River while swimming.

It says they were standing on a submerged sandbar when large waves swept them farther into the river.

Conservation Warden Scott Thiede says those sandbars can be deceivingly safe.

Scott Thiede says, "Be aware that sandbars have drop-offs. While it might seem to be shallow where you're walking, that next step could be off the end of the sandbar."

Thiede says if someone falls off those drop-offs, it doesn't have to be fatal.

He says you just need to relax.

Scott Thiede says, "The thing that causes people to drown is that they unexpectedly end up in the river and then they panic. They lock up, they freeze up. They start to struggle against the powerful currents that rivers have and then they end up being exhausted and drowning."

Thiede says even tubing down the river can be dangerous.

Scott Thiede says, "You should have a life preserver with you. If you develop a leak or slide off or fall off that slippery vinyl substance you're floating on and end up in the water. It's good to have a life preserver nearby."

But Thiede says your time out on the water doesn't have to be scary.

Scott Thiede says, "The river itself is not something you need to be afraid of. You need to have respect for the river valleys and the water, but you don't need to fear it. Just use some common sense."

And he says just enjoy the environment around you.

Scott Thiede says, "Riverways are very good for canoeing and tubing and wading. But it's important to be aware of those dangers."

Here are some quick water safety tips.

The American Red Cross says it's a good idea for adults and children to learn how to swim before hitting the open water.

It says never swim alone, it's best to have a buddy swim with you.

And, Thiede says it's smart to always have a life jacket with you at all times when you are swimming.


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