On June 26th, the Snoqualmie Fire Department and Emergency Management posted on Facebook that emergency crews from all over the Snoqualmie Valley had responded to SEVEN Swiftwater rescue calls in ONE day.
This revelation comes one day after the same page posted concerns about water safety during the upcoming hot weather.
“**DANGEROUS WATERS* The Snoqualmie River while enticing can be a dangerous place this time of year. The temperatures are going to be high over the next several days which means inevitably people will be out on the water.
PLEASE exercise caution floating the river between Snoqualmie and Fall City! Follow these tips from Lt. Hughes regarding water safety:
1. Wear a life jacket.
2. Know your limitations.
3. IF you do go out on the water, don’t do it alone.
4. Do not secure coolers to your body.
River flows are expected to be 3500-3800 cfs (seasonal high) over the course of the next week. These are considered HIGH FLOWS for our rescue technicians which makes them extremely dangerous for the recreational floaters. From all of the fire departments in the Snoqualmie Valley, stay safe!”
It appears their concerns were warranted, and their warnings went largely ignored.
As of June 22nd, 2021, the current temperature of the Snoqualmie River is only 51 degrees. Rattlesnake Lake in North Bend appears to be slightly warmer at 66 degrees.
According to the National Center for Cold Water Safety, “You should treat any water temperature below 70F with caution.”
It is important to understand how dangerous cold water is, it can kill people in less than a minute, some people die within seconds.
You may think, “Oh, no big deal. I fall in; I can just climb back in.” But, unfortunately, some people die before they have a chance to reach the surface. Add high river flow, blazing heat, alcohol, novice swimmers and river hazards, and you have a recipe for disaster.
River Safety Measures
- Know the river conditions, even when wading. If you don’t know the area, don’t go in.
- Never jump or dive into unfamiliar water.
- Do not swim at dusk or night.
- Wear a lifejacket or personal flotation device.
State Lifejacket Laws
Washington state law requires children ages 12 and younger to wear a Coast Guard-approved lifejacket or vest on vessels less than 19 feet long, including inner tubes. Clearly, adults should do the same.
Safety Tips for Boating and Tubing
- Always tell someone your route and when and where you expect to put in and take out.
- Never float the river alone and, if possible, make sure there is at least one oared craft in your group if a rescue is needed.
- Drink lots of water to avoid heatstroke.
- Bring a dry bag with food, water, and warm clothes.
- Have a backup plan for emergency contact if your trip is cut short by an unforeseen obstacle or emergency.
More river safety tips are posted on the King County website.
People have asked, “what’s the condition of the people who were rescued yesterday?” I’ve asked and don’t know an answer to that yet. It’s the weekend, there are privacy rules, and clearly, these agencies are busy. So I don’t know that we’ll ever know the outcome of some of these rescues.
What we do know is lives were in danger, both floaters and rescuers, and it’s all completely preventable. So, please, be careful today and tomorrow. Keep yourself and everyone else safe these next two days.
[Story will be updated if any information is released regarding the condition of the people who got in trouble yesterday]