Warm weather may be on the horizon, but lakes and rivers in the area are still cold and the water can move quickly
VANCOUVER – With public swimming pools likely to reopen and the return to outdoor recreation this summer, Public Health is reminding people to exercise caution in and around the water. Warm weather may be on the horizon, but lakes and rivers in the area are still cold and the water can move quickly. With a few simple steps, everyone can be safe and enjoy the water all summer.
With public swimming pools likely to reopen and the return to outdoor recreation this summer, public health is reminding people to exercise caution in and around the water. File photo
Know the water conditions
- Lakes and rivers in southwest Washington are still cold enough to shock and immobilize even the toughest swimmers.
- Rivers are high and swift from rain and snowmelt and can carry debris.
- Avoid fast flowing water. This includes rivers and beaches with spring tides.
- Know your limits. Drowning often occurs when swimmers get tired.
- Do not swim alone.
In addition to monitoring river conditions, public health urges people of all ages to follow the tips below to swim and relax safely in any body of water:
- Avoid distractions when children are swimming or around the water. Monitoring requires full attention even if another adult is present. Drowning can be quick and quiet.
- Teach the children to swim. Enroll kids for swimming lessons when they’re ready. Early and often swimming lessons teach children the skills they need to be safe in and around the water.
- Wear a life jacket. Children, adolescents and adults should wear life jackets when boating, using a watercraft, hose or other water sports equipment. Life jackets should also be worn when swimming in lakes, rivers, or the ocean.
- Make sure children always wear life jackets. Inflatable toys do not protect children. The law requires children 12 and under to wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket or vest on all vessels 18 feet or smaller.
- Avoid alcohol and marijuana while swimming or boating.
- Do not dive in shallow water or jump off bridges or cliffs.
- Only swim in designated swimming areas. The signs show when and where it is safe to swim.
Protect yourself, your children and your pets from blue-green algae
Cyanobacteria, or more commonly known as noxious blue-green algal blooms, are known to be found in several bodies of water in Clark County. These flowers can produce toxins that are harmful to animals and humans. Pets, especially cats and dogs, are curious and cannot hesitate before swimming or drinking water, even if seaweed is present. Animals can also lick algae caught in their fur after being in the water or eat dried clumps of algae along the coast.
Check out the Public Health Beach Swimming website for the latest information on local waters and follow these tips to avoid exposure to harmful blue-green algal blooms:
- Do not drink, wade, or swim in water that looks discolored or contains algae. You can find more information about harmful algal blooms on the Public Health website.
- Look for signs indicating that a blue-green algal bloom has been reported and refer to the public health beach webpage for details of the notice.
- Check for any visible signs of bloom. Water can look like green or blue paint has been thrown into the water, giving it the appearance of foam or soup.
- Never let your dog eat scraps or algae.
- Always shower after contact with water and wash pets with clean water.
- When in doubt, stay outside! Cyanotoxins are released when algal cells die. Toxins can still be present even after a flower has dissolved.
Anyone who has come into contact with water known to contain cyanobacteria and / or cyanotoxins should rinse it off with clean, fresh water as soon as possible. Anyone who may have been exposed to cyanobacterial toxins, especially those with symptoms, should see a doctor right away.
Look for new year-round algae signs
Flowers mostly appear in summer when the water is warm and the sun is shining, but they can appear at any time throughout the year. To keep people informed of potentially dangerous conditions, Public Health publishes notices that remain posted year-round around bodies of water known to have harmful algal blooms. The signs provide water contact recommendations for people who encounter algae while relaxing in the water.
Public Health will continue to monitor waters with reported algal blooms, but will only issue a notice if water tests show that cyanotoxin levels are above recovery guidelines set by the Washington State Department of Health. If toxin tests cannot be performed or if toxins are found below recovery guidelines, Public Health will not issue a recommendation.
Information provided by Clark Co. WA Communications.