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Prevent Tragedies on the Water this Summer

July 1, 2011

Mark Peterson, Fire Chief/Emergency Services Administrator, 425-430-7000
Preeti Shridhar, Communications Director, 425-430-6569

Supervise children playing near water; always wear a life jacket. 

RENTON: Swimming, boating, and other forms of water recreation are popular pastimes in this area and throughout Washington State. In some circumstances, these activities can prove to be dangerous and fatal. In 2010, King County lost 13 people in unintentional drownings.

The City of Renton has two swimming beaches with lifeguards on duty—Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park and Kennydale Beach Park. Lifeguards are on duty daily from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., June 18, through Labor Day, September 5. The city’s Henry Moses Aquatics Center is another wonderful and safe location to swim with lifeguard supervision. The open swim hours are from noon to 3:30 p.m. and again from 4:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The pool is open from June 18, through Labor Day, September 5.

Even on the hottest summer days, water that is warm on the surface may be much colder below. Washington waters are cold enough to cause hypothermia and weaken even the strongest swimmer. It is important for everyone to know their limits. Drowning often happens when someone tires while swimming. Rivers may not be moving as fast as they did in the spring; however, log jams can trap swimmers and large rocks or logs can tip over rafts, canoes and kayaks.

“With melting snow pack at much higher levels than normal, our rivers are fast moving and the risks for drowning are much higher,” says Mark Peterson, Fire Chief /Emergency Services Administrator. “Drowning can be easily prevented by wearing a life jacket, keeping a close eye on children when they are in or near the water, and learning how to perform cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).”

If a person isn’t a strong swimmer, they should always wear a life jacket around any body of water and on boats. Be sure it fits properly and is fastened correctly. State law says all children 12 and under must wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket or vest on all vessels 19 feet and under. This year it is also the law in King County to wear life jackets on all King County rivers.

To keep yourself and others safe, remember the following:

  • Learn to swim and other water safety survival skills
  • Always swim with others
  • Obey all safety signs and warning flags, and adhere to the rules in public swimming pools and beaches
  • Never go in the water after drinking alcohol
  • Wear a life jacket
  • Swim in areas with lifeguards
  • Always enter shallow and unknown water feet first
  • Learn CPR and how to recognize and treat hypothermia

For more information on King County’s law click here. For information on drowning prevention visit rentonwa.gov.