The City of Trail is reminding all Gyro Park beach users to take caution and to obey the park’s posted warnings about water safety. (Submitted photo)

Kootenay Boundary rescue pulls swimmer from river

Fire Chief Dan Derby says the boat was deployed three times for river rescue near Trail

Kootenay Boundary’s rescue boat was launched three days in a row to assist people in distress.

The latest close call was on Saturday just past 1:30 p.m. when Station 374 Trail was dispatched to rescue a swimmer from the middle of the Columbia River.

The boat was on the water within minutes.

Captain Jason Milne reported the three-man team made contact with the swimmer near the shoreline under the Victoria Street Bridge.

Milne said the person did not require medical treatment.

“Quick response by duty crew ensured a positive outcome,” Fire Chief Dan Derby advised. “(This is the) third day in a row marine rescue has been called out to assist people in distress. Be careful on the river and wear your life jackets when boating.”

No further information was available on the other two reports of rescue boat deployment.

The City of Trail issued a water safety advisory on Monday, reminding Gyro Park beach go-ers that no lifeguard is on duty.

The municipality is warning swimmers about the cold, fast-moving river and its strong unpredictable currents.

Rocks and floating debris can also present hazards.

Additionally, the city reminds the public that the floatation line (when in place) is for emergency purposes only. Due to fluctuating water levels, the line does not delineate a safe swimming area.

“The City of Trail thanks you for your cooperation, and we wish you a fun and safe summer.”

Any questions about Gyro Park beach should be directed to the roads and grounds superintendent at 250.364.0817.

In late June, the BC Coroners Service issued an advisory for residents and visitors to take extra care near rivers, lakes or the ocean.

Statistics collected by the BC Coroners Service consistently show a spike in drowning deaths each summer, with the numbers beginning to increase in May, and continuing to rise through August.

While accidental drownings have declined over the years, the coroners service was already investigating five drowning incidents that occurred on B.C. waterways in June.

Besides never swimming alone – always have a buddy and keep an eye on each other – the service advises the following:

• In any small craft, wear a properly fitted personal flotation device (PFD) at all times when on the water. Having one in the boat is not sufficient, as in as many as 70 per cent of boating incidents, the person becomes separated from the boat.• Children, non-swimmers and weak swimmers should also wear a PFD when wading or playing in the water at a river or lakeside.

• Do not mix alcohol with boating, swimming or other recreational water activities.

• A study published in the journal, Injury Prevention, suggests that someone with a blood-alcohol level of 0.10 has about 10 times the risk of drowning during boating as someone with none, and even a small amount of alcohol can increase the risk as a result of impaired co-ordination and judgment.

• Impairment is illegal for someone driving a boat, and is also a risk for passengers who are more likely to fall into the water.

• Impairment by alcohol or drugs is often a contributing factor in cases in which someone has accidentally fallen into water from shore.

• Be aware of the water conditions where you are planning your activities. Check the weather forecast before heading out and do a visual inspection of the area. Do not head down a river without being aware of the water conditions further downstream. If there are warning signs posted, obey them.

• If you are hosting visitors from another province or country, ensure that they are informed about the conditions that prevail in the lake or river you are visiting. Warn them about steep drop-offs, rapids, currents, cold water and any other hazards.

• Always supervise children anywhere near water. Pre-school-aged children can drown in only a few centimetres of water, and drowning is often silent. Young children should be within arm’s reach of a responsible adult. Swim lessons do not replace the need to supervise children around water.

• Never dive into unknown waters. Unexpectedly shallow water or hidden obstacles underwater can easily prove fatal. Diving from cliffs or from other great heights is exceptionally risky.

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