Arlington first responders urge safety for Stillaguamish River swimmers, beach-goers

ARLINGTON – Emergency rescue crews from Arlington assisted on an alarming number of drownings and near drowning calls on the Stillaguamish River during last year’s severely hot summer.

The heat is back, and the Arlington Fire Department is warning river revelers to stay safe by observing some common sense tips.

“Although the river looks inviting on hot days, it is also very deceiving, running high and swift from rains and snowmelt,” Fire Chief Dave Kraski said.

The Stilly provides outdoor activities that draw people to its banks for swimming, canoeing, tubing, fishing, picnicking and sun-bathing.

But the river can turn deadly in an instant. Currents can be much stronger than they look, and swirling eddies and sudden rocky dropoffs beneath the surface that can overwhelm even the strongest swimmer, Kraski said.

The department encourages water users to respect the danger of rivers at any depth.

Lifejackets should always be worn when in, on or near water.

The American Red Cross offers these water safety tips.

• Always swim with a buddy; never swim alone.

• Ensure all family members learn to swim.

• Never leave a young child unattended near water.

• If boating, canoeing, kayaking or tubing, wear a lifejacket.

• Alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use are not permitted at the river or in public parks.

For the enjoyment of other beach users, city officials also remind folks that littering, fires, fireworks and firearms, overnight camping and motorized vehicles are not permitted. Pets must be be leashed at all times, and whatever you pack in, pack out.

The city, Snohomish County and state officers will patrol parks and beaches this summer to enforce these rules. To report reckless, suspicious or illegal activity, call 9-1-1.

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