SALEM, OR -- Most of Oregon will see our warmest temperatures so far this year this weekend, and rivers, lakes and reservoirs will be crowded. "The fact that school’s out; the fact that we finally have warm weather. People have been having their boats ready to go for a long time," says Brian Paulson, with the Oregon Marine Board, "Finally the stars are aligned, and people want to get out and recreate."
Paulson is the Boating Safety Program Manager. He says our late warm-up means waterways are much colder than we’re used to, "In Downtown Portland, the Willamette River is about 57 degrees. This time last year it was 70 degrees. When you drop below 60 degrees it’s definitely high risk for cold water shock." That, he says, can turn deadly for someone who goes in the water, "That first minute is when somebody will go into muscle spasms, hyperventilation. It’s really critical that you’re wearing your life jacket. That keeps a person afloat and breathing." Paulson urges everyone to wear a life jacket equipped with a whistle or other noise making device to alert others if you get into trouble.
Boaters also need to realize many areas have higher than normal water levels, "With these stronger currents, it’s creating strainers and capsizing situations that they may not have encountered last year." Paulson says many waterways also have more debris and other hazards than typical for June.