TRUCKEE, CA (KOLO) As the snow melts throughout the Truckee Meadows region, the Truckee River flow is high, fast, and cold. Aside from the swift water, the threat is the extreme water temperature. Water from snow melt creates frigid water and a threat of hypothermia.
"We're right about 40 degrees and a person's ability to maintain self-rescue goes away very quickly when they get hypothermia," Mark Thyer of Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District says.
First responders say even the most experienced kayakers and swimmers can drown from rapids, rocks and water exposure.
"The vegetation creates a strainer; this is something that someone in the water can get caught up in and ultimately drown when the current presses them up against something they can't get out of," he says.
It is strongly encouraged to wear personal flotation devices at all times.
"A PFD for a wakeboarder is designed to keep them bobbing with their head up, but a river personal flotation device is designed with more flotation in the front so it lifts the feet out of the water while still keeping the head out of the water," Thyer says.
River Safety Tips:
- Strongly discourage anyone from entering the river unless they are a highly experienced swimmer, or are accompanied with a commercial river or rafting company.
- Use the buddy system – never boat alone.
- Always wear a life jacket at all times, when you are in or near the river.
- Never run a rapid unless you can see a clear path through it. Watch out for new snags after winter and spring floods.
- Know your limits as a swimmer, and know when and how to swim for an eddy.
- Be prepared for extremes in weather, especially cold temperatures.
- Reduce threat of injury by wearing protective footwear and proper clothing.
- Be equipped with a first aid kit and know how to use it; learn or review medical aid responsibilities.
- When entering a rapid section, allow the craft ahead of you to pass through before entering. This enables one boater to lookout for the other and will avoid a double disaster if the leading boat blocks a narrow channel.
- Never enter in the river intoxicated or impaired.
Copyright KOLO-TV 2019