‘Don’t come and get in the river’: Placer County officials stress water safety during warm weekend

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Placer County officials are warning residents and visitors of cold, fast-moving water in local rivers.The Placer County Sheriff’s Office, Cal Fire / Placer County Fire and the Office of Emergency Services just launched their “Be River Wise” campaign, which aims to educate people on the risks they could face if they visit the county’s rivers, including the American River.Officials said the heavy snowpack in the mountains is now melting, which is leading to dangerous conditions in the water. Their biggest piece of advice: do not go into the rivers right now.“This time of year, just don’t come and get in the river,” Cal Fire captain and Placer County Tactical Rescue team member Peter Paulus said. “It’s around 50 degrees, it could be a little bit higher, it could be in the upper 40s, so with the amount of current that we have here, it’s going to be very powerful. It’s going to push you, and that cold is going to take your endurance away very fast, so as soon as you get in any of the whitewater, you won’t have any buoyancy, you’ll go under, you’ll be very cold and you’re going to lose your ability to fight very quickly.”People caught in the water could suffer from hypothermia, which leads to confusion, shivering, loss of coordination and muscle control and even cardiac arrest.Paulus said rescue crews respond to calls almost daily this time of year to help people who are drowning and struggling in the water. But he added that, even if first responders come, the results could still be deadly.“There’s not always going to be a positive outcome even if we show up here to help you,” Paulus said.The American River is a main waterway that officials are keeping an eye on this weekend and beyond as the temperatures get warmer. Stephanie Sowers, the supervising ranger for the Auburn State Recreation Area, which includes the American River Confluence, said they see tragic incidents in the river.“Unfortunately, every year we end up having a fatality related in some way to recreation, oftentimes relating to drowning in this river,” Sowers said. “I never want to be the person that has to call your family member and let them know that you’re no longer with us.”Sowers said drowning deaths this time of year are preventable by simply not going into the water. She also said that if a person is with someone who gets swept away by the fast-moving current, they should stay out of the water and call for help.“Oftentimes that second person, if they get in the water, they become a victim as well, unfortunately, despite their best intentions,” Sowers said. “Instead of getting in the water and potentially being overtaken yourself, even if you’re a strong swimmer, you’re just creating a bigger emergency and putting your own life in peril.”Officials said when it comes to recreational activities, such as rafting or kayaking, only well-trained and experienced people should be out on the water, and they should be with a local rafting company.American River Raft Rentals is gearing up for a busy weekend, with several reservations for their rafts already in place for Saturday and Sunday. But co-owner Kent Hansen said they are making sure customers have the proper safety equipment, and the company is only renting rafts at the moment, not paddle boards, kayaks or tubes.“Right now, absolutely wear your life jacket. That’s the biggest thing we tell everybody. Another thing is, is that we are just renting rafts right now. That way you have that extra stability,” Hansen said.Hansen also said that life jackets are required for the duration of the rental.“You should be wearing it the entire time you’re on your trip, on the boat and along the shoreline,” Hansen said. “We’re here to make sure you can have some fun in the sun this weekend.” See more coverage of top California stories here | Download our app.

Placer County officials are warning residents and visitors of cold, fast-moving water in local rivers.

The Placer County Sheriff’s Office, Cal Fire / Placer County Fire and the Office of Emergency Services just launched their “Be River Wise” campaign, which aims to educate people on the risks they could face if they visit the county’s rivers, including the American River.

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Officials said the heavy snowpack in the mountains is now melting, which is leading to dangerous conditions in the water. Their biggest piece of advice: do not go into the rivers right now.

“This time of year, just don’t come and get in the river,” Cal Fire captain and Placer County Tactical Rescue team member Peter Paulus said. “It’s around 50 degrees, it could be a little bit higher, it could be in the upper 40s, so with the amount of current that we have here, it’s going to be very powerful. It’s going to push you, and that cold is going to take your endurance away very fast, so as soon as you get in any of the whitewater, you won’t have any buoyancy, you’ll go under, you’ll be very cold and you’re going to lose your ability to fight very quickly.”

People caught in the water could suffer from hypothermia, which leads to confusion, shivering, loss of coordination and muscle control and even cardiac arrest.

Paulus said rescue crews respond to calls almost daily this time of year to help people who are drowning and struggling in the water. But he added that, even if first responders come, the results could still be deadly.

“There’s not always going to be a positive outcome even if we show up here to help you,” Paulus said.

The American River is a main waterway that officials are keeping an eye on this weekend and beyond as the temperatures get warmer. Stephanie Sowers, the supervising ranger for the Auburn State Recreation Area, which includes the American River Confluence, said they see tragic incidents in the river.

“Unfortunately, every year we end up having a fatality related in some way to recreation, oftentimes relating to drowning in this river,” Sowers said. “I never want to be the person that has to call your family member and let them know that you’re no longer with us.”

Sowers said drowning deaths this time of year are preventable by simply not going into the water. She also said that if a person is with someone who gets swept away by the fast-moving current, they should stay out of the water and call for help.

“Oftentimes that second person, if they get in the water, they become a victim as well, unfortunately, despite their best intentions,” Sowers said. “Instead of getting in the water and potentially being overtaken yourself, even if you’re a strong swimmer, you’re just creating a bigger emergency and putting your own life in peril.”

Officials said when it comes to recreational activities, such as rafting or kayaking, only well-trained and experienced people should be out on the water, and they should be with a local rafting company.

American River Raft Rentals is gearing up for a busy weekend, with several reservations for their rafts already in place for Saturday and Sunday. But co-owner Kent Hansen said they are making sure customers have the proper safety equipment, and the company is only renting rafts at the moment, not paddle boards, kayaks or tubes.

“Right now, absolutely wear your life jacket. That’s the biggest thing we tell everybody. Another thing is, is that we are just renting rafts right now. That way you have that extra stability,” Hansen said.

Hansen also said that life jackets are required for the duration of the rental.

“You should be wearing it the entire time you’re on your trip, on the boat and along the shoreline,” Hansen said. “We’re here to make sure you can have some fun in the sun this weekend.”

See more coverage of top California stories here | Download our app.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.

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