Police issue warm-weather water safety reminders

EVERETT — Police are reminding folks to stay safe as boating season kicks off Saturday.

Temperatures in the Everett area are predicted to reach the 80s this weekend, according to the National Weather Service in Seattle.

Warm weather combined with fun on the water can result in tragedy in Snohomish County. The county so far this year has seen at least one boating-related drowning on Silver Lake.

Roughly a dozen people have died in boating accidents in Snohomish and Island counties since 2008, state data show. Some of the most common factors in fatalities were people not wearing life jackets, using alcohol and drugs or falling overboard. Overloading and capsizing because of rough weather also were factors.

“We encourage people to have fun but to pay extra attention to others on the water and as always, wear your life jacket, and know and follow the boating laws,” said Snohomish County sheriff’s Lt. Rodney Rochon, who leads the marine unit.

People are reminded to check weather and water conditions before they head out. They should let people know where they’re going and when they’ll check back in, Rochon said.

That can aid rescue crews in the event of an emergency so they can find people faster.

Everyone should wear life jackets that fit well and meet modern U.S. Coast Guard standards, Rochon said. People also should obtain and carry the boater education card as required by state law. Exceptions to the law exist based on horsepower and operator age.

Groups also should assign an adult to watch children around the water full time.

People who operate boats while drunk or high can be arrested and face criminal sanctions, Rochon said.

Last year, the violations most commonly spotted by marine officers were for people not having enough life jackets, not having their boater education card and not carrying updated boating registration information.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

Staying safe

For more information about boater education, go to www.boatered.org.

For child safety and life jacket rental information, go to www.snosafekids.org. Life jacket rental cabinets at local parks are slated to open Memorial Day Weekend.

•Never use innertubes and rafts designed for swimming pools on open water.

Know your limits; do not attempt a section of river beyond your skill level.

Pay attention to weather and water conditions. Wear wool clothing or a wet suit and dress for the water temperature. If the water temperature and air temperature combined total 100 degrees or less, wear protective clothing.

Enter cold water slowly.

Avoid swimming near boat ramps or in boating areas.

Avoid downed trees, snags and confluences.

If your vessel capsizes, float on your back, feet together and pointed downstream. If you go over a ledge or drop, tuck into a ball.

If you’re caught in a fast-flowing river or rapids, try to float feet first in a half-sitting position. Release your craft only if it improves your safety. Stay upstream, away from the boat.

Also this time of year, emergency crews often have to respond to incidents where infants or toddlers have fallen out of windows, according to Snohomish County Fire District 1. Parents should move furniture away from windows and consider installing safety devices. Screens will not bear a child’s weight. Window devices should be easily removed by adults in case of a fire.

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