Officials urge caution when swimming this summer

Cold spring temperatures and larger than normal snowpack have created dangerous conditions

Photo courtesy of King County.

Photo courtesy of King County.

As temperatures finally begin to rise along the Puget Sound, King County officials urge residents to use extra caution when swimming this summer.

The water in local waterways including rivers, lakes and beaches will be colder than usual because of the large snowpack and cold spring temperatures, according to the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks.

The mid-June central Cascade Range snowpack is 300% more than normal and snowmelt is still being added to local rivers as of June 21, according to the King County Department of Natural Resources.

In addition to lower water temperatures, the larger than normal snowpack means rivers are running higher and stronger than usual, creating more hazards for swimmers.

“We know rivers will run cold and fast well into summer, and lakes will stay cold longer than normal, which can all be deadly for people who are unprepared,” Public Health’s Violence and Injury Prevention Manager Tony Gomez said. “Washington waters are often cold enough to cause cold water shock, even on a hot summer day. Cold water can quickly weaken even the strongest swimmer.”

Last year there were 29 preventable drownings in King County alone, and 15 of them were in open water — and most could have been prevented by a life jacket, according to the King County Department of Natural Resources.

The county recommends people wear lifejackets when swimming at a body of water where a lifeguard is not present.

“A drowning does not look like a drowning you see on TV or in the movies,” said Sgt. Richard Barton of the King County Sheriff’s Marine Rescue Dive Unit. “People are not flailing around or splashing the water. They are doing the dog paddle and not moving or gaining forward momentum. So, if you see this action, do something, reach out to them with anything, a pole, a towel, an ice chest. If they are farther out, throw something to them like a rope or a life jacket of some sort. And please, wear a life jacket. I responded to seven drowning incidents last season. They were all preventable if the person had just worn a lifejacket.”

For more information on how to stay safe while enjoying the region’s lakes, rivers and beaches, visit Public Health Seattle & King County’s website on water safety.




In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@issaquahreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.issaquahreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

Dr. Faisal Khan. Courtesy of King County.
Dr. Faisal Khan appointed as next King County health director

Dennis Worsham will continue to serve as interim director until September 6.

Teaser
King County experts discuss extreme heat mitigation plan

The plan includes improving infrastructure and communications to prevent future disasters.

King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterburg (File Photo)
King County Prosecuting Attorney vows to protect reproductive freedom

Dan Satterberg joins over 80 prosecutors from around the country in their pledge.

Teaser
King County approves emergency grant after U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

Washington is expecting an influx of people seeking abortions from out of state.

Fedor Osipov, 15, flips into Steel Lake in Federal Way during last year's heatwave on June 28, 2021. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Heatwave expected to hit King County

Temperatures will likely reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, June 26, and Monday, June 27.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII: Examining Auburn police officer’s grim tattoos

Episode 5 in special podcast series that explores Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

File photo.
Former Bellevue teacher sentenced in federal court over child pornography

Department of Justice says the man had 1,764 images of child sexual abuse in his possession.

Photo courtesy of King County.
Officials urge caution when swimming this summer

Cold spring temperatures and larger than normal snowpack have created dangerous conditions

File photo
Fireworks ban takes effect this year in unincorporated King County

The new law does not extend to cities, which each have their own regulations around fireworks.

Most Read