MERLIN, Ore. -- To prepare for the upcoming holiday weekend and prevent water tragedies, Josephine County Parks has installed a new Life Ring Station at Indian Mary Park.
Park Ranger Steve Harvey said the 24-inch, U.S. Coast Guard approved ring is installed at the park's boat ramp, a popular spot for people to get into the water.
Park employees installed the $749 device Thursday.
"We've had some issues here with people not knowing the current and getting out there and getting in trouble," Harvey said.
There have been five drownings in just the last year, 3 of which happened in the last two months.
Harvey said many people come from out of town to the area and might not know about the river's power.
"You get tired and the water is a little chilly, so you get out there, you start swimming and you go a little farther and farther and next thing you know you're in the main current," Harvey said.
Park employees ask to only use the Life Ring during an emergency, and they say someone should always call 9-1-1 immediately.
Although cell reception is limited in the area, the camp hosts have a phone in the main park office.
Josephine County Parks also says life vests should always be worn.