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Why a life jacket could save your life in the Thompson River

Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
July 04, 2017 - 6:30 PM

KAMLOOPS - A Kamloops Search and Rescue manager is sending a strong message to people who plan to swim in rivers with strong currents like the Thompson River.

"I’ve seen dozens and dozens of dead people and I’ve never seen one wearing a personal flotation device," Alan Hobler says.

With slightly higher water levels than usual at this time of year — and a strong undertow in the Thompson River, Hobler says it's important for people to stay within swimming boundaries and use life jackets.

"It’s the prevention piece, it’s wearing your personal flotation device," he says. "I know it’s not cool, I know it leaves funny tan lines."

But when it comes to a matter of life or death, he says, it's important to assess the risks of water and act accordingly. When people think of water or swimming, they don't always see it as a risky activity.

This past weekend, a 25-year-old man drowned in the South Thompson River after he fell into the river while attempting to climb out of the water. Witnesses said he didn't resurface.

Hobler says he isn't aware of all of the circumstances surrounding the man's death, but says a life jacket or personal flotation device may have been able to help save him by allowing him to float to the surface.

"I’ve seen so many of these and they’re absolute tragedies."

Hobler also warns people who may witness someone else struggling in the water to not jump in after them. He says reaching out to them, throwing something out to them, or rowing out to them if you're in a boat are all much better options than jumping in.

But the first thing you should do is call 911.

He says sand bars can also be hard to read at this time of year because some parts can almost act like quick sand underwater. His best piece of advise is to wear that life jacket, even if you don't want to.

"Maybe you’re OK with risking your life, but think about the impact (your death) is going to leave," Hobler says.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Ashley Legassic or call 250-319-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
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