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Jul-17-2014 23:08printcomments

Three Men Plucked from Two Willamette Valley Rivers

The Oregon State Marine Board and other boating safety advocates recommend that all boaters and water users not only have a life jacket, but “Wear It!” at all times.

Buena Vista Ferry
An intoxicated man had to be pulled out of the Willamette River -- as seen here from the Buena Vista Ferry -- Thursday evening south of Independence. Photo Courtesy: Marion County

(JEFFERSON, Ore. ) - It was a busy evening for Jefferson firefighters and other rescue crews, after two separate water rescue's took place in the Willamette Valley within an hour of each other.

Jefferson firefighters were first called to the North Santiam River near Scio on the report of two males in serious trouble on inner tubes.

Jefferson Fire District spokeswoman Tammy Robbins says when firefighters arrived they found the two men were caught in heavy brush and trees along the river bank in fast moving water. Firefighters were able to free the men and get them safely back to shore. Neither man was injured, and both were wearing life jackets.

Then crews were called to the Willamette River near the Buena Vista Ferry just south of Independence.

Reports into Salem-News.com from the scene said the ferry operator heard calls for help coming from the river, but could not see the person, and called in for emergency help.

Once Jefferson firefighters and Marion County Sheriff's Office deputies arrived on scene they found they had an intoxicated man in the middle of the Willamette River, which is approximately 720 feet wide in that location.

The man refused to obey orders from authorities, and had to be pulled from the water by the Polk County Sheriff's Office Marine Patrol Unit. The man was not wearing a life jacket, and was taken to the Polk County side of the river, and it is not known if he was taken into custody or ticked for his actions.

Most waterways in Oregon, especially rivers, are fed by snow melt and remain cold through most of the year well into the summer. Cold water and hot surface temperatures can lead to muscle cramping with just a minutes of exposure.

For people floating in single inner tubes, even though they aren’t considered a boat and are exempt from state life jacket requirements, are even more prone to muscle cramping.

Many Oregon rivers have a strong undercurrent, and if a person falls out of their inner tube, the tube will float downstream faster than they can grab it. Add muscle cramping and cold water, and that could mean trouble.

The Oregon State Marine Board and other boating safety advocates recommend that all boaters and water users not only have a life jacket, but “Wear It!” at all times.

Why?

Because accidents on the water happen too fast to realistically put one on in an emergency.

U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in 77 percent of recreational boating fatalities in 2013, and that 84 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets. That’s why boating safety advocates continue to push for increased and consistent life jacket wear on the water.

The good news is that today’s life jackets are much more comfortable, lightweight and stylish than the old, bulky orange horse collar styles from decades ago. Life jackets that use inflatable technologies are lightweight, keep the wearer cool, are extremely comfortable and resemble a pair of suspenders or a belt pack.

Other Life Jacket Styles are Available for Almost any Boating Activity:

For fishing: Vest-style life jackets come with features such as pockets and clips that can replace a fishing vest and keep the angler safe.

For personal watercraft and water sports: Inherently buoyant, lighter-weight life jackets are rugged, with multiple buckles and clasps to keep them secure after impact with the water.

For paddling: Special life jackets are designed with large openings for arms to allow ease of movement. For Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP), many paddlers are opting for the inflatable belt-pack style. This type of life jacket is worn in the front, not the back, because once the pack is deployed, the life jacket will inflate forward, and allow the person to easily slip it over their head.

For children: There are specifically-designed, inherently buoyant life jackets that come in a wide variety of styles, colors, and types. Many styles include straps attached to a head cushion that make pulling a child from the water much easier and ensures a child’s head can remain face-up when they’re in the water.

For pets: Life jackets are even available for our four-legged friends. It’s helpful to purchase one with a handle on top to easily pull your pet out of the water, if needed.

No matter what the activity or style chosen, the most important thing is: remember to select a life jacket that you like, is designed for the activity you’re doing and to “Wear It!”




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