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Rivers, lakes still cold, dangerous

With sunny skies and warmer days ahead, King County officials urge everyone to be careful when heading out for fun on the water.

The cool, wet winter and spring left a heavy mantle of snow across the Cascade Range, and warmer temperatures means rivers will be swift with icy cold snowmelt for weeks to come, county health officials say. Lakes and Puget Sound aren’t much warmer options for a swim: Cold-water shock can set in after a matter of minutes in any body of water.

In 2013, Public Health – Seattle & King County found that 22 people died in preventable drowning incidents – and half of them occurred in open water, such as rivers, lakes, ponds, or Puget Sound.

Four drowning deaths occurred in August, and three occurred in May last year.

Nine of the deaths could have been prevented with lifejacket use.

Half of all deaths involved alcohol and/or other drugs.

Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children and teens age 1-17 in Washington State.

“I urge everyone to use caution when going into the water,” said King County Sheriff John Urquhart. “Don’t drink, and always wear a life jacket.”

 

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