Officials Warn About River Safety as Temperatures Rise - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Officials Warn About River Safety as Temperatures Rise

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In spite of our dry winter, this is usually the time of year when the Truckee River is the highest and fastest.

For kayakers, this is when conditions are the best.

"Usually in the spring is, for us, the most exciting," Travis Bott said. "Maybe for the general public, the most dangerous because the snow melt tends to bring a lot more water down the mountain."

"The current is a lot stronger than you think it is," John Lau said. "There are rocks underneath that you can get your feet caught in."

The Reno Fire Department has already been called out to two river rescues in the past two weeks.

Every month, the fire department trains for river rescues.

They say the training is critical because they respond to several dozen river emergencies every year.

That's why firefighters encourage people to use caution in the water.

"Bare minimum, wear a life jacket, and shoes are always a good idea," Matt Peek, Reno Fire Department WET Team Director said. "A helmet, if you're going to be spending a lot of time in the water. And make sure that anybody on shore, your family and friends know what your plans are."

Even though our dry winter means less snow melt, Peek says there still could be debris like tree branches floating downstream, as well as trash.

And the water temperature is still in the low fifties.

"Sooner or later, that cold will wear you down," Peek said. "A little bit hypothermic and you just don't have that strength. It takes a lot of strength to stay warm."

These guys say if you're thinking about swimming or rafting down the river, make sure you know what you're doing and use proper safety gear.

"I would not be out here without the right thermal gear to keep me warm and insulated," Lau said. "And honestly, I wouldn't want to swim in that river at all. I like my boat. I like staying in my boat."

The amount of river rescues usually depends on how wet the winter was.

Last year was very dry and the fire department still had 45 river rescues.

But two years ago was extremely wet and they had more than 100 calls.

Written by Paul Nelson
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