Redmond firefighters remind community to practice water safety as weather warms up

Firefighters gear up for a recent water rescue along the Sammamish River. - Courtesy of City of Redmond
Firefighters gear up for a recent water rescue along the Sammamish River.
— image credit: Courtesy of City of Redmond

As the spring weather continues to warm up and more people are out enjoying the sunshine, the Redmond Fire Department (RFD) urges citizens to be aware of water hazards.

A recent water rescue has prompted firefighters to highlight the dangers of swimming or boating alone and remind everyone to take water safety measures.

On March 31, emergency crews responded to an overturned kayaker in the Sammamish River. The kayaker tipped over after entering an area of rapid currents and overhanging branches. The initial emergency response included 23 rescuers from RFD, Redmond Medic One, the Kirkland Fire Department, King County Sheriff's Office (KCSO) and their marine unit.

While Redmond firefighters stabilized the kayaker with a rope from shore, two members from the Sammamish Rowing Club transported three firefighters in motorized boats to the victim. The rowing club just happened to be in the area, but canceled their outdoor rowing event due to poor water conditions. The 27-year-old male was quickly returned to shore where aid crews treated him for mild hypothermia and was released on-scene after further evaluation and treatment.

"We want people to enjoy the water safely," said RFD Capt. Rob Torrey. "The water can be extremely cold and dramatically affect the reactions of even the strongest swimmer. We want to remind citizens that outside temperatures may be warm, but water temperatures are still low and conditions hazardous until later in the year."

The recent water rescue victim was not wearing a personal floatation device. When planning on being on the water, people should be familiar with local waterways and should always wear a personal floatation device and not go alone. The KCSO reported the water temperature during the rescue at 41 degrees. Rapid currents, unfamiliar rowing area, no life vest and inexperience all contributed to the incident.

The RFD and KCSO respond to numerous water rescues each year, which often lead to injury and sometimes death. Local water safety knowledge and personal safety techniques can prevent incidents and save lives.

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