Now’s the season for water safety

This weekend’s heat has brought the seasonal calls for safe use of the region’s rivers and the City of Renton’s swimming pools and beaches.

This weekend’s heat has brought the seasonal calls for safe use of the region’s rivers and the City of Renton’s swimming pools and beaches.

The city’s Henry Moses Aquatics Center and the popular Lake Washington beach parks, include Gene Coulon, will open for the summer on June 21, after vacation begins for Renton students and for the many college students who work as lifeguards.

The last day the beaches and pool are open is Labor Day.

Dave Perkins, the city’s aquatics coordinator, said the city is well-staffed with lifeguards, but “we could always use more,” he said. That need is especially great in late summer, when lifeguards who attend Washington State University return to school in August.

Those interested in applying for a lifequard position can call Perkins at 425-430-6712.

The city needs about 50 lifeguards to staff the Henry Moses facility and 21 or 22 for the swim beaches.

The city also is starting a Guardstart program this year for youth ages 12 to 15, which is a junior lifeguard program. Lifeguards must be at least 16 years old. This junior program allows those younger to shadow a lifeguard.

With the warmer weather, the city also was planning to have staff on duty at the boat launch at Gene Coulon late this week to help with an expected increase in boat traffic because of the nice weather, Perkins said.

The launch will be staffed on weekends June 1-14, then starting on June 20, the launch will be staffed fulltime, he said.

The warm weather also is a big draw for such rivers as the Cedar and the Green. The Cedar is running high and cold this spring because of the huge snowpack in the Cascades, according to Judy Fillips, who lives along the Cedar and is chair of the River Safety Council.

Her message: Wear a life jacket. That piece of equipment is critical if a swimmer, rafter or boater falls into the river or lake and suffers from hypothermia.

“Hypothermia is a significant issue on our river, especially when it is running high and off snowmelt,” she said.

The council provides the following safety tips:

Tips for tubers

• Keep it short. You can get very cold in a short stretch of water.

• Go with a group. Stay with a group. Watch out for each other.

• Don’t take people on a river if they can’t swim.

• Don’t be embarrassed to get out when you get cold.

• Wear shoes in case you need to walk over gravel or up a bank to get out.

• Never float at night. What you can’t see can hurt you.

• Skip the alcohol. It affects your judgement and how cold you get.

• Wear a life jacket.


• Hypothermia is a severe reduction in body temperature (below 86 degrees F) that affects brain and heart function, and can kill.

• Use of alcohol causes the body to cool quicker.

• Get the affected person out of the water.

• Do not expect a person with hypothermia to make good decisions about safety or getting out of the water.

• Prevent further heat loss by removing wet garments, insulating the victim, and shielding him or her from wind.

• Warm the victim with dry clothes and snuggling.

• Administer CPR if the victim has stopped breathing.