Use caution when swimming in local waterways

During the past few weeks, temperatures have begun to heat up. It’s the time of year when many are drawn to the area’s natural waterways. Pacific Northwest residents are blessed to have access to rivers, streams, lakes and ponds to enjoy from afar and to cool off in up close.

But these beautiful surroundings are also dangerous. It’s a danger that is unfortunately illustrated nearly every summer as local residents and visitors suffer preventable injuries and in the worst cases, death. These situations often occur when people underestimate the power and lack of predictability that exist when it involves open water swimming and other activities.

The most recent example occurred Monday, when a Washougal man had to be rescued from the turbulent waters of the Upper Washougal River, near Dougan Falls. His legs became stuck under some rocks and he we unable to get free on his own. He wasn’t wearing a life jacket.

And since June, at least five drowning deaths have occurred in area recreation spots including the Yale Reservoir, Klineline Pond, Moulton Falls and the Lewis River. According to reports, none of the men who died were wearing life jackets.

There are lessons to be learned from these tragic situations. Among them the most obvious: Wear a life jacket, and don’t take undue risks. It’s simple advice, but so often forgotten.