River Safety: As Temperatures Heat Up Officials Issue Warning On - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

River Safety: As Temperatures Heat Up Officials Issue Warning On Strong Water Currents

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SPOKANE, Wash.- This is the time of year when people start thinking about getting in the Spokane River. The weather is getting nicer and with the warm temperatures it can be tempting to stick your feet in the water to cool down. However, the Spokane Fire Department says it's still to early to do that. One small misstep in the water could cost you your life.

Although it is supposed to be in the 70's this week, the water temperature of the Spokane River will still be very cold. Right now the river is running high and fast because ice from the mountains is still melting and draining into the water.

Fire officials say people need to use extreme caution around the river; "Don't let children play in the water or even pets."

Moving water just six inches deep can knock an adult off their feet and the swift current can move a person downstream quickly. Cold water temperatures can also cause hypothermia and  the water will be much colder than the air temperature.

The high water level can also push debris like logs and tree branches downstream, which makes it even more dangerous.  Even if you notice a spot of the water that doesn't appear to be moving swiftly, one wrong step could put you in danger of getting pulled downstream.

We spoke with Brian Schaeffer of the Spokane Fire Department and tells KHQ, " there's a very strong undertow that would just take you down the river before you even know, it's happened. It's happened to people,  happened to pets. Stay out of river keep watch of all your children don't take any chances."
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