first_imgTemperatures may have risen into the 80s last week, but that doesn’t mean the water is warm now.Brian Schlottmann, an environmental public health program manager with Clark County Public Health, said safety is his main current concern with the county’s bodies of water. Earlier this month, a 30-year-old Portland man fell out of his inner tube on the Washougal River, and hasn’t been found. He is presumed to have drowned.A 28-year-old woman he was with also was pulled out of her inner tube, but she was rescued and survived.Schlottmann said the combination of strong currents and water cold enough to shock swimmers has him concerned.“With what happened recently on the Washougal River, people need to be aware that water temperatures are still in the 50s,” Schlottmann said. “The Columbia River is right around 50 to 55 degrees. People need to be aware of how cold the temperature is. Even though the temperature is warm outside, the water is flowing fast. It’s still high. And oftentimes it’s still too cold to be in.”Rivers are still high from rain and snowmelt, and may be carrying debris. Public Health advises to not swim alone.Schlottmann said there are around 3,500 unintentional drownings in the U.S. each year. He said alcohol use and marijuana play a large role in that number. So does a lack awareness about the strength of Mother Nature. “It’s the same old thing. It’s not knowing the water you’re swimming in. It’s overestimating your swimming ability,” he said.Stay hydratedClark County Public Health Officer Dr. Alan Melnick said that as climate change occurs, “we’re going to see more frequent hot days, record temperatures and prolonged heat spells.” Temperatures are expected to cool off this week, but the Northwest continues to break records with its temperatures.Melnick said it’s important to hydrate to beat heat, and it’s important to check on elderly neighbors. Public Health will let people know of public cooling stations on days when those are needed. He said a shopping mall can function as a cooling area if someone is in need.last_img

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