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Sheriff’s office urges preparation before water fun

BONNEVILLE COUNTY, Idaho (KIFI)- As the summer heat continues to drive more people to have fun in the water the Bonneville County Sheriff's office wants to remind us to be safe and plan ahead.

During the month of July, the sheriff's office has had an average of one water emergency call a day. Sergeant Bryan Lovell said part of the reason for the large uptick in calls is a lack of preparation.

"What we see lately is some of our rescues are people that aren't quite as prepared as they should be. And they may be experienced in the water and have been out on the water before. But either the vessel or the flotation device or whatever they're on isn't suitable for the conditions in the river. You know, they're not wearing lifejackets, not familiar with the area," said Lovell. He adds that while no one has died on the water yet, it's been too close for comfort for some.

Lovell says the most recent incident was on Sunday, July 24. "Our victim was on an inflatable kayak of some sort, not super rugged, but probably not meant for the conditions that we have in the Snake River. We have areas and channels that are, you know, slow and rather calm," Lovell said.

He says thankfully though the victim made it out alright, with some symptoms of mild hypothermia.

Lovell says no matter where you are in the lakes and rivers and even if you have experience on the water you can be easy to get swept away by a strong current. "It's easy to get caught up in the main current or an undercurrent that can take you where you don't want to go. And then especially if you're not wearing a lifejacket, if you're not prepared for the unexpected, you can get in a serious way pretty fast. And then on top of that, it's 90-something degrees out here lately and it feels good to be out in the cold water."

He says that cold water can cause hypothermia. Something most don't think about during the summer. "Once you're in that cold water and you're struggling against the current or trying to get to a safe place, trying to avoid getting injured, hypothermia and the cold water temperatures start to kick in and that really hampers your ability to self-rescue."

Lovell says preparing for the journey ahead can be the difference between needing to be rescued and staying safe. "new to the area and so being prepared for safety, for emergencies, understanding that, you know, those currents in the water and the unseen hazards under the surface, they can they can, you know, take you by surprise and do things that you, you know, can't anticipate, not all the time."

Lovell says there are other actions you can take to keep safe. "The biggest thing we always stress is wearing a lifejacket all the time. Idaho law requires it. If you're 14 or younger on anything," Lovell said. "People need to take a moment and think about the area they're at, look at the conditions, research and check what the conditions are. Pay attention to the weather."

He says that the weather can change very quickly so always be mindful of what is going on around you once out on the water. "They can get very dangerous in a hurry just with some wind gusts and so if people take a moment to just look at conditions, plan for safety, have those safety items in your watercraft or your vessel. always wear a lifejacket, always tell people where you're going."

Lovell says perhaps the best thing to do is to always tell someone when and where you plan to enter and exit the water. He says in the event of an emergency this can give first responders a chance to get a head start in their efforts for the rescue.

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Braydon Wilson

Braydon is a reporter for Local News 8.


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