Spokane Riverkeeper, Regional Health District, County Sheriff and local businesses work together to promote Spokane River safety.
If you’re like me, this recent hot weather streak we’ve been on has you thinking about nothing but pools, rivers, lakes, whatever – just anything to stay cool. And lucky for us, we have a GREAT swimming resource in the Spokane River. Ten minutes from wherever you are (it’s a saying, just go with it), you can jump in the Spokane River and forget about that sweaty several hours you spent mowing your grass or sitting in a hot cubicle. Swimming in a River, it doesn’t get much better than that! Or does it?
Yes!, that River could be cleaner, for one. But most importantly, it would be better if people who use the River to swim or float would do so more safely so we could avoid some of the tragedies that have peppered the nightly newscasts of late.
Which is why the timing of this announcement below couldn’t be better.
Release: July 24th, 2012
Waterkeeper Alliance, a network of 200 water protection groups worldwide, including Spokane Riverkeeper, continues its awareness of the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act on July 26th with “Swimmable Action Day”. The focus of the Swimmable Action Day is to encourage citizens to celebrate the right to clean, swimmable waters and to promote the importance of the Clean Water Act.
The Clean Water Act was enacted in 1972 with the national goal of achieving drinkable, fishable and swimmable waterways coast to coast. While we still have a ways to go in many places, the Spokane River is in fact used frequently for fishing and swimming, especially in the dog days of summer.
Unfortunately, as recent news reports make clear, swimming and floating on the Spokane River, especially at higher stream flows in late spring and early summer, can be hazardous, especially for inexperienced swimmers who don’t use life jackets.
Many of the recent drownings could have been prevented with basic safety precautions, precautions that are as easy as buckling a seat belt while in a vehicle. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists the failure to wear a life jacket as among 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 be on a watercraft on the Spokane River without a life jacket.
“Wearing a life jacket is not just a legal issue, it’s a life saving issue,” said Deputy Mark Gregory, the Public Information Deputy 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.”
The Spokane River is a great resource and a great way to not only cool off in the summer, but to enjoy nature as it was meant to be enjoyed. The Spokane River is and should be a “Swimmable” River and Spokane Riverkeeper wants to see people out on the River and enjoying all that it has to offer. Spokane Riverkeeper and the General Store, a Spokane institution, want to make sure people are being as safe as possible when they’re out there this summer. For one day only, July 26th, the General Store will be offering 40% all life jackets in stock.
In addition, there are other local efforts to enhance more affordable access to life jackets. A 25 percent-off coupon is available on the Spokane Regional Health District’s website that is good at Big 5 stores in Washington and North Idaho through Sept. 30
This is the time of year to enjoy the Spokane River and to do so safely. Through outreach and education, and collaboration with business partners, Spokane Riverkeeper, Spokane Regional Health District and Spokane County Sheriff hope that “safety first” becomes the motto of Spokane River recreation.
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 CPR 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.
Here’s a joint press release we worked on with the Spokane Regional Health District and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.