After three rescues in three days, the Penticton Fire Department is issuing a safety guideline members of the public who plan on floating along on the Penticton River channel.
“This year the river water is moving very fast trying to unload the high water levels out of Okanagan Lake,” said Penticton fire chief Larry Watkinson. “Although it doesn’t look like the water is moving fast due to the flat bottom of the channel, it can be troublesome if you are not paying attention to your surroundings.”
The safety guideline is made up of five basic steps:
- Do not tie your floats together – “This is what causes 90 per cent of our rescue incidents. Floats get wrapped around bridge abutments, floats flip over and pins floaters against the pillar.”
- Wear a life jacket – “Especially non-swimmers and children.”
- Avoid alcohol and apply sunscreen
- Keep an eye out for hazards, like bridge abutments and other floaters
- Pay attention to the exit – “Stay right 3/4 the way down, there are signs guiding you. If you cannot make the exit, don’t panic, stay on your flotation then paddle right to the beach on Skaha Lake.”
“Follow these basic safety precautions, and your floating experience should be an outstanding summer memory,” said Watkinson.
On July 22, Penticton Fire Department was called to the channel to assist in a rescue of a woman who had gone missing after being separated from her group. The day before, the department had conducted a rescue mission after seven tourists were separated after their tubes became tangled around the abutment of a bridge.
Again, on July 20, Penticton Fire Department was tasked with dealing with two parties of people, both with tubes tied together. Five days prior, a family was rescued after flipping their tubes on the channel.
–With files from Phil McLachlan
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