RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — With temperatures reaching near triple digits this weekend, many people are expected to flock to the James River in attempt to cool off.
Last week, there were multiple water rescues on the James, and in one case a person drowned. Now, the fire department wants to make sure you stay safe on the water.
The Richmond Fire Department averages roughly 80 water rescue calls each year, with a majority happening during summer. On Thursday, fire officials took 8News Reporter Tracey Smith out on the water to not only share safety tips, but also to remind many that the river is unpredictable.
“You never know what the river is going to do,” Captain Douglas Clevert with the Richmond Fire Department said.
Just like clockwork, when the temperature rises, so does the number of people who head out to enjoy the James River.
“It’s not a swimming pool,” Captain Clevert said. “A lot of people think, ‘I can swim in a pool, I’ll be a great swimmer out on the James.”
Captain Clevert encourages everyone — kids and adults — to wear a live preserver. Not only to potentially save your life but also to make water rescues easier.
“It gives us something to hold to when we are trying to grab you or pull you in the boat,” Captain Clevert explained.
If floating is your plan, make sure you get a river raft and not just a pool float.
“You’re going over damns, you’re going over rock, so you know you hit the float and it pops. Now you’re stuck out there,” Captain Clevert said.
Captain Clevert added that if you find yourself in trouble, don’t hesitate to call 911.
“Notify us early, don’t try to self-rescue,” he said.
Captain Clevert says often times people stay out on the river all day ad forget to drink water and eat.
“Know your limitations,” he said. “No alcohol and just be safe.”
Officials also recommend checking the water levels often because it can change in a matter of minutes.
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