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Posted 7/31/2017

Release no. 17-073


OMAHA, Neb. -- Water management and recreation officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ urge visitors to keep safety in mind while enjoying outdoor recreation opportunities, particularly during unusually hot temperatures and fluctuating water flows.

Outdoors enthusiasts can enjoy scenic river views while taking advantage of fishing, boating and swimming opportunities to help beat the summer heat.

Unfortunately, outdoor fun can end tragically due to accidents in, on and around the water.  To encourage a safer recreation experience throughout the year, please remember the following rules and tips to help everyone enjoy summer fun at Corps recreation areas:

Campfires and barbecues are only allowed in designated areas.  Some locations have restrictions on open fires, so check the information kiosks at recreation areas for additional fire restriction and safety notices. 

Extremely hot weather -- like the record-breaking temperatures currently forecasted for some parts of the Snake River Basin -- can hurt or worse. Find National Weather Service forecasts and heat advisories for your area online at http://www.weather.gov/ 

Don’t needlessly put yourself at risk -- know the symptoms of heat illness and practice prevention tips recommended by the Center for Disease Control www.cdc.gov.

Heat illness preventive measures:

• Drink plenty of fluids even if you don’t feel thirsty.

• Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing and sunscreen.

• Do not leave children or pets in cars.

• Schedule outdoor activities carefully and pace yourself.

• Take regular breaks from direct sun exposure in the shade or an air-conditioned, indoor location.

• Take cool showers or baths to cool down.

• Check the local news for health and safety updates.

Heat illness categories and symptoms

 Heat Exhaustion 

  •Heavy sweating

  •Weakness

  •Cold, pale, and clammy skin

  •Fast, weak pulse

  •Nausea or vomiting

  •Fainting

 Heat Stroke

  •High body temperature (above 103°F)*

  •Hot, red, dry or moist skin

  •Rapid and strong pulse

  •Possible unconsciousness

Heat illnesses should be taken seriously and can be fatal in extreme cases. If you or anyone you’re with show signs of heat illness, immediately relocate to a cooler environment and get medical help.

As the nation's largest federal provider of water-based recreation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stresses water safety and urges extra caution while in or around water. Following these water-fun safety tips can help you have a great time out at the rivers and return home safely.

Learn to swim and don't overestimate your skill. Once you know how to swim, ensure that you always swim with a buddy. Don't rely on inner tubes or water toys to keep you afloat. Know your limits. Each year many people drown by overestimating their swimming skills and swimming beyond their limits.

Do not dive or jump from cliffs. Walla Walla District prohibits cliff diving and jumping because of the associated dangers.  Many cliffs have a shelf or shallow slope underneath the water line.  What you can’t see is what could injure you.

Beware of cold water temperatures. Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce it. This can happen in any season, especially in the Pacific Northwest, where water temperatures remain low all year.

Corps recreation officials caution all Snake River users to be alert to changes in water elevation and volume of flow. Boat operators should also keep the fluctuating water levels in mind when anchoring or tying-off their vessels. Here are some additional safe-boating tips:

Wear your life jacket. Ensure properly fitting, accessible and serviceable life vests are available for each occupant on your boat. Better yet, wear them.

Check the serviceability of your boat and take a boating safety course. Know the rules before you boat. The U.S. Coast Guard reports that the majority of boating-related fatalities involve operators who have not received any boating safety instruction.

Know the weather and have a float plan. Changing weather conditions can create unsafe situations on open water. 

Watch for floating hazards in the water.  Each year, snowpack melts into high-flowing streams and tributaries, and large amounts of floating wood – ranging in size from small twigs to telephone pole-sized logs – are often swept into rivers.  The debris can pose a danger to boaters, swimmers and others out enjoying the water. 

Don't drink and boat. About half of adolescent and adult deaths associated with water recreation involve alcohol use.  This is about one in five reported boating fatalities. Just one beer might impair your balance, vision, judgment and reaction time, thus making you a potential danger to yourself and others. Don't include alcohol in your outing if you are planning to have fun in, on, or near the water.

For more information on these and other water-safety tips please visit the Corps' water safety website at www.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Recreation/National-Water-Safety_Program/ 

Site-specific recreation information is available on the Corps’ website: www.nww.usace.army.mil/corpsoutdoors