With the recent announcement that public pools and other aquatic venues (splash pools, fountains etc.) will remain closed for the remainder of the summer due to COVID-19 fears, local authorities and EMS workers remind citizens to be careful swimming in rivers in Benton-Franklin Counties.

Many have been flocking to the Yakima, Columbia, and Snake/Palouse Rivers to escape the heat. This is in addition to regular boaters and jet skiers and water skiers.

There have been at least three drownings in our region in the last five weeks; including one June 1st on the Palouse/Snake River, Jun 19 the 12-year-old girl who nearly drowned by Richland (She later died from brain injuries sustained due to lack of oxygen) and June 26 a 52-year-old man drowned near Two Rivers Park by Finley (he was outside the roped off swimming area, according to reports).

EMS workers stress the need for swimmers to wear a life jacket or some sort of flotation device, one that straps or secures to their body.  It needs to be that kind, just having a tube or floatie around your body is not a guarantee it will stay put if you fall or jump into water.

The man who drowned near Two Rivers had been lying on a some sort of air filled flotation device, but was NOT wearing a life vest. By the time nearby swimmers were able to get him back to the surface and to shore, he could not be revived by EMS.

Be sure anyone and everyone who will be actively swimming in water (boating as well) has an approved strap on life vest, one that will keep them afloat without any effort by the wearer (treading water).

The life you save may be your own.