Water safety reminders for Memorial Day weekend

Jackson County Marine Search and Rescue Division shared safety tips with NewsWatch12.

Posted: May 24, 2019 4:41 PM
Updated: May 24, 2019 5:37 PM

ROGUE RIVER, Ore. -- Seven lakes and 54 miles of the Rogue River are all in Jackson County. If the sun is out this weekend, Deputy Jason Denton, JCSO Marine Search and Rescue Division, said he expects the lakes and river will all be packed.

Deputy Denton said, "First and foremost have lifejackets, wear your lifejackets and have them on board and ready to go. Lifejackets are what saves lives."

State law requires boaters to have lifejackets on readily accessible onboard. For kids under 12-years-old, a life jacket is always required to be worn, but those over 13-years-old have the option of wearing a jacket. If jackets aren't being worn, they need to be placed in an area easy to access in emergency. There is two primary types of lifejackets - the inflatable kind and then foam jackets which are bulkier and more common. 

Deputy Denton said the water throughout Southern Oregon will be cold this weekend and if you plan on getting in it, you need to be prepared.

"It doesn't take but 30 seconds before the cold seeps into your muscles, and what your body is trying to do is conserve energy and heat, so it's going to start shutting down the extremities - your arms and your legs, hands and feet," Deputy Denton said.

He said it's not uncommon for them to make hypothermia rescues, even in the middle of the summer.

"You can be in serious trouble in this river in a matter of two minutes."

In addition to cold water and lifejackets, Denton asks those on the water to be alert. If you're not paying attention, you could get your boats, kayaks, rafts or tubes caught on something in the water.

"What happens is whenever floating devices come down, and gets trapped in the tree, it wants to go over or under it," Denton explained. "It's human reaction to just grab ahold of something to make it okay and that works most of the time, but if you grab a hold of the top of this and the rest of your body goes underneath, you get pinned in there."

The Marine Search and Rescue Division will be out on the water this weekend to keep everyone safe. Denton said he wants everyone to have fun, but to keep it under control. Police will be on an increased alert for intoxicated drivers, this includes those driving boats on the water. 

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