If this spring’s unseasonably warm weather is drawing you to the lake or river this weekend, Avista reminds you to exercise caution as snowmelt is causing high, swift and cold river flows.
While the water may look calm on top, the current is usually very strong. Combined with cold water temperatures, swimmers can find themselves in a dangerous situation quickly. As a public service, Avista reports on area lake and river levels and makes the reports available to the community by calling (509) 495-8043 or (208) 769-1357.
To protect yourself and your companions when recreating on or along a river or lake, always follow these important safety tips:
- Always wear personal flotation devices (PFDs), even if you are an adult. It’s always a good idea to attach an emergency alert whistle to your PFD.
- Remember that water is extremely cold in spring. Know the symptoms of hypothermia.
- Keep your head above water. Muscles in your limbs can stop working after only 10 minutes. Hypothermia can begin in one hour or less depending on the water temperatures.
- Be alert to strong currents and undertows.
- Always be alert for debris, obstructions and partially submerged objects that may be a result of spring run-off and high water conditions.
- Always obey warning signs near dams.
- Never cross boater restraint cables or buoy lines that designate areas where boats should not operate. The closer a boat or individual gets to a dam or powerhouse, the more hazardous the situation becomes.
- Never fish, swim or boat above or below a dam – water levels can change rapidly with the operation of spillgates and turbines.
- If in a sailboat or catamaran, always look for overhead cables and power lines.
- Never operate watercraft under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Never anchor your boat below a dam
- Make a voyage plan including the area you will be recreating, who is in your party and return time. Share the plan with someone who will not be in your party.
When on the water, obey all warning signs, follow all rules and regulations, and use common sense. Remember rivers and streams are at their peak flows during spring and early summer. Here are more safety tips