Posted: Jul 15, 2013 8:16 PM by Jason Laird - MTN News
With the recent rash of drownings in Montana, officials and experts are stressing water safety.
Over the weekend, two people, an adult and a toddler drowned in separate incidents on the Stillwater River.
Rivers like the Stillwater and others under the Big Sky may look deceivingly harmless to the naked eye, but can pose serious dangers.
"So right in this area we have several hazards here," said Stillwater Co. Sheriff Clifford Brophy. "If people were to go our with guides or trained professionals, they can learn those few key points there, that will help them minimize the danger out there."
Even a shallow river like the Stillwater can produce hundreds of pounds of force.
"Just this water appears to be shallow enough people can stand up in it," said Brophy. "In fact, if you tried to, there's a good chance you can get your foot caught in that and literally drown in just a few feet of water."
So if you do find yourself in a bad situation, what do you do?
Shane Weinreis, a member of the U.S. Water Rescue Dive Team offers suggestions.
"Reach, throw, row, don't go," Weinreis said. "The first thing a person from shore would want to do is be able to reach something to the victim, like a oar, or a branch. The next thing would be throw, they have something buoyant, something that floats, if they can throw it to the victim, so they can grab onto that and help support them. And lastly, if there's a boat available then they'd want to use the boat."
The rescue team also tells us not to panic, float on your back, and angle your body toward the shore.
Officials also urge anyone playing on Montana's waterways have personal floatation device or lifejacket available.
"Most crucial point, of course, is fit. If the jacket is too small they're not going to have freedom of movement or the ability to breathe like they would like to," said Oren Harper, another member of the U.S. Water Rescue Dive Team.
Explaining how important it is to have proper fit for children's lifejackets, he continued:
"And if it's too big, it will just not going to do any good," Harper said. "It's going to come right off of them if something should happen. Best thing to do is just grab the life vest, and just pull up on it. You should be able to pick them up off of their feet. If the vest comes off the top, needless to say its too big.
For more information, click here.
Photo from U.S. Water Rescue Dive Team website.