New data from the Oregon State Marine Board show nearly half of Oregon’s 16 boating deaths in 2022 happened during July alone, and all but five happened throughout the summer months, when heat waves struck parts of the state.
That’s not entirely surprising. As the weather gets warmer, people flock to bodies of water to cool off — but many aren’t aware of how cold the water still is . Any water temperature below 70 degrees Fahrenheit can be hazardous, according to the National Center for Cold Water Safety. When cold water makes contact with skin, a person can go into shock and lose control of their breathing. That makes the risk of drowning high, even if the water is calm.
In 2022, most of the victims were men, and most of them were not wearing life jackets, according to the particular Oregon State Marine Table, which released information on the fatalities Thursday.
Oregon’s boating deaths decreased slightly from 2021, when the state recorded 19. The previous year, Or saw its highest number since 1993 — 26.
An additional four people died while boating on Oregon waterways in 2022, but their own deaths were not classified as “boating deaths” by the U. S. Coast Guard’s definition, either because the particular boat was anchored, the death occurred after the particular person was back on land or it occurred when the person was using a river tube rather than a boat.
In one such case , Kevin McDowell, a 35-year-old Portland man , drowned after he jumped in the Columbia River from his anchored boat on one of the hottest days of the year to save a woman who was struggling to swim. The woman survived.
The Rogue and Willamette rivers had the highest number of boating fatalities with three apiece. But water deaths happened all over the state, and ranged from drownings on lakes and reservoirs to the Pacific Ocean — giving a sense associated with just how prevalent fatal water accidents can be within the wrong conditions.
The circumstances around the boating deaths varied widely last year, from sudden medical incidents in order to boats getting stuck. Seven times boats capsized.
But regardless of what happens, water safety experts and law enforcement officials agree on 1 main thing that can help in an emergency on the water: wearing a properly-fitting life jacket. In 10 of last year’s 16 boating fatalities, victims were not wearing personal flotation devices, data through the Oregon State Marine Board showed.
Water safety experts say it’s vitally important to know basic safety rules that can protect even the particular most experienced boaters.
Swift undercurrents and hazards like logs or rocks under the water’s surface can add to the unexpected dangers.
Some local organizations are trying to reduce drowning deaths by providing free life jackets at bodies of water.
The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District, has a list of life jacket “loaner stations” close to the state. Corvallis Parks & Recreation provides a rotating supply of about 600 life jackets in a local aquatic center and two access points on the Willamette River. Metro, the Portland-area regional government, also stocks existence jackets at half a dozen boat ramps plus water recreation areas.
The Army Corps of Engineers also urges people to look for the four signs of drowning: head back and bobbing above and below the water’s surface; mouth open; no sound and arms outstretched as if the victim is slapping or playing in the water.
The federal agency summed up the need for the particular flotation devices in its national water safety campaign :
“Please wear it. ”
—Jayati Ramakrishnan; [email protected] com