SEATTLE — Health officials and local emergency management crews are urging caution around the water ahead of forecasted high temperatures in western Washington this weekend.
Although temperatures are forecasted to reach the high 80s and low 90s, the temperature of rivers, lakes and beaches are still dangerously low, which could prove a deadly combination for swimmers.
"We know rivers will run cold and fast well into summer, and lakes will stay cold longer than normal, which can all be deadly for people who are unprepared," Public Health - Seattle and King County's Violence and Injury Prevention Manager Tony Gomez said. "Washington waters are often cold enough to cause cold water shock, even on a hot summer day. Cold water can quickly weaken even the strongest swimmer."
Preventable drownings have risen over the past five years in King County. There were 29 drownings in 2021, and two-thirds of those deaths could have been prevented by a life jacket, according to county data.
Some beaches will also be without lifeguards in some places in Seattle and King County this summer. Officials recommend anyone venturing into King County waters without a lifeguard present wear a life jacket.
In Pacific County, emergency management officials are asking people to stay out of the water, reminding swimmers that the Pacific Ocean is not a safe place to swim.
"Multiple times every year, people are caught in rip currents and have to be rescued, or worse, they are killed," the agency wrote on Facebook. "The water may look inviting, you may think nothing will happen to you, but please stay out of the water."
On Thursday, emergency crews in King County responded to Angle Lake to evaluate a child who had been exposed to cold water. The child was in the water for too long, but otherwise did not need medical treatment.
"This is an excellent reminder that the warm weather does not mean it's safe to be in local lakes and rivers," Puget Sound Fire wrote on Twitter.