Current events yield swim safety cautions


News staff writer

July 1, 2006

Following several reports of swimmers in difficulty at the Hood River waterfront, both the port and sheriff’s office have advised people to use caution at the waterfront during the holiday weekend.

Deputy Jerry Brown confirmed that the sheriff’s office responded both Monday and Tuesday to reports of people in trouble in the Columbia River.

Several 9-1-1 calls Tuesday night reported three people in the water off the sandbar and unable to swim.

Brown said the sheriff’s response resulted in the transport of a 36-year-old woman to Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

“In light of the fact that five people drowned across Oregon this past weekend, we are urging people to use flotation devices when swimming in the river,” he said.

He advised parents to keep an eye on their children as well as use caution when swimming at the marina beach on the waterfront.

The incidents took place during the past week at the confluence of the Hood River and Columbia River, where currents are strongest due to higher water this year in the river, creating stronger river currents. Swimmers are being advised to use caution until water levels recede.

The port has posted signs to warn swimmers of the potential dangers. They also issued a swim warning Wednesday that illegal activities at the Hood River waterfront could result in a fine of up to $250 and possible removal from the port’s property for the season.

This is in response to the ongoing problem of people jumping and diving off the cruise ship dock next to the Nichols Boat Basin and Hood River Event Site. No public water access is legal from this dock.

The port issued a press release stating the cruise ship dock was not designed for swimmers as it is a dangerous place to swim because of ship traffic, submerged rocks and pilings near the shoreline and the dock’s height.

Brown said the sheriff’s marine deputy and the port maintenance officer examined the site on Tuesday.

“The problem is, people continue to tear signs down and to rip hasps off to gain access,” he said.

The Oregon State Marine Board has also joined the call for children to wear life jackets when wading near rivers and lakes.

“Drowning is the second leading cause of fatalities, and we’ve already lost several children and adults this year,’ said Ashley Massey, public affairs specialist for the board.

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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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