Boating safety tips, amid Sacramento River drowning

Jul 21, 2014 8:11 PM

The drowning along the Sacramento River in Redding Sunday afternoon has raised safety concerns for people who engage in water activities.

Boating safety experts say the 2 men whose canoe capsized on the Sacramento River yesterday were not wearing a life vest -- a mistake that cost one man his life.

"The most important thing, always wear your life jacket...some people think it's ok to take it off."

Others think it's ok not to wear one at all, which is why about 13 Shasta County Sheriff's Deputies are out today on the Sacramento River, searching for the body of a man whose canoe capsized Sunday afternoon.

"If for some reason you end up in water, you're gonna float...the current is strong and water is cold, and when there's a current pulling you around, it's going to pull you under..."

A life jacket also keeps your body core temperature insulated, buying you more time when you're floating in the water.

"One of the dangers with cold water immersion is as soon as people get dunked under the water...they gasp...they take a big mouthful of water and then it becomes a fight for survival."

As crucial as a life jacket is, Lance Law says knowing which water vessel to get into can make all the difference.

"If they're gonna come out onto the river in a kayak or a canoe, that watercraft is much less stable than a big raft."

Swift currents can easily knock a kayak and a canoe over - not knowing how to navigate the water -- in addition to not wearing a life jacket -- is a recipe for disaster.
"The Wyndham Riffle where this accident's one of the more turbulent spots between here and Anderson..."
Joe and Brian of Redding, who didn't want to go on camera, claim they saw the canoers enter the Wyndham Riffle Sunday afternoon.
They say there's another dangerous spot near the Sundial Bridge, where boats always flip over - and a third area south of the Bonnyview Boat Launch that locals call "the washing machine", because of the way the water spins.
In a nutshell, Law says wearing a life jacket and being aware of your surroundings are the 2 best safety measures for survival.
" aware that there's lots of obstacles on the river...keep your eyes downstream...keep your center of gravity low and paddle the rapids..."
Law recommends anyone who's not familiar with the flow of the Sacramento River to paddle on flat water surfaces first, like Whiskeyt\own and Shasta Lakes.
There are boating safety classes available through the Division of Boating and Waterways for beginners.


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