NEVADA CITY, Calif. May 25, 2018 – Despite the drizzle of rain today and possibly Saturday, Memorial Day weekend will once again unofficially kick off summer. Temperatures are forecast to rise above normal by Sunday and the temptation to spend time at or near a river will be great, but so are the dangers.

Last weekend, firefighters were dispatched to three water rescues on the South Yuba and that number is expected to increase dramatically this holiday weekend.

Rivers are still running fast and cold, now is not the time to take that first dip in the river – especially if you are by yourself. Children (and adults) should wear life jackets around any body of water.

You may think of yourself as a strong swimmer, but consider this: The world’s fastest swimmers achieve speeds of about 5-6 mph. The current river flow at the 49er bridge is about 250 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 6,732,468 gallons per hour, roughly 10 Olympic-size swimming pools of water.

Risking your life and first responders’ too

With every accident comes a response. Firefighters, medics, search&rescue teams, air ambulances and other helicopters will respond to these emergencies. Swift water rescue, medical rescues, technical rescues are part of their extensive training. Every year, first responders die saving lives. If you don’t value your own life, think about your family, your friends and these perfect strangers willing to risk their own life to save yours.

River accidents are preventable. All it takes is personal responsibility and common sense. That goes especially for “I’m a strong swimmer” types.

Swimmers and boaters alike need to be aware of the dangers. If you have to swim, do it in a lake and observe basic safety precautions: Wear a life jacket. Don’t swim alone. No drinking and swimming. For boaters, the same rules apply – a life jacket won’t ruin your style but can save your life.

PS: Since January 1, CAL FIRE has responded to over 1,200 wildfires that have burned nearly 8,000 acres. No fires in the canyon please.