Near-drowning prompts warning

July 23, 2005

A father almost drowned on Thursday afternoon while trying to swim against a swift current to reach his children on a sandbar.

Hood River Port officials said the incident was not the first of its kind this season, as people underestimate the swift current in that area. The agency has received several reports in recent weeks of swimmers, especially children, who got into trouble as a result of the strong water flows near the mouth of the Hood River.

Although the dangers are listed on caution signs located at the Marine swim beach, many recreationsts appear not to be aware of the drastic change in water depth. Dave Harlan, port director, said the water can change from a few feet to 10 feet or more within just a few steps. When you add in a strong current around the sandbar, he said the situation can spell trouble.

“Parents should be aware of the hazards as they supervise their children,” said Harlan.

Hood River Assistant Fire Chief Devon Wells said more caution is necessary on the river because of the hidden elements. He said a father playing with his four children near the sandbar became exhausted shortly after 3 p.m. on July 21 when two of them panicked after losing their flotation devices. When the man tried to swim against the current to reach his young charges, he quickly became exhausted and had to be rescued by nearby boaters.

“It definitely shows the dangers of swimming in open water. People just need to be very, very careful,” said Wells.

Port Marine Park has one of Hood River’s only swimming sites along the Columbia River shoreline. Other port areas, such as the Event Site, the Hook and the Spit, are dedicated to windsurfing, kiteboarding, boating and fishing.

The port also wants to remind swimmers that jumping and diving off the cruise ship dock adjacent to the Event Site is prohibited. The port is working with the Hood River City Police Department to patrol the area. Violators will be given a $250 fine and removed from the property.

Harlan said the dock was not designed for swimmers and is a dangerous place to jump from because of ship traffic, submerged rocks and the height. “No swimming” signs are posted in that location and no one without the port’s permission can walk onto, jump from, dive from or otherwise use this area.


For more information, call the port at 386-1645 or visit

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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