By the time you get thirsty, it’s too late! First responders offer tips on safely beating the heat

Rivers are still running high and very cold, despite rising temperatures.
Sun shines on Yakima River in Benton City, WA

Benton City – Summer is officially here, and so are summer temperatures.  After a chilly, rainy spring, many people are thrilled to get outdoors and enjoy the nice weather. But the message from first responders is: take a moment to prepare before you go.

“If you’re planning on doing anything as simple as floating down the river, plan your trip. Let someone know where you’re going to be. Or meet with someone else to have a buddy. Just be prepared,” said Benton County Fire Protection District #2 Special Operations Captain Bill Reed.

A life jacket – or ‘personal floatation device’ – should be fitted based on weight, not necessarily age.  Washington state law requires boaters to carry enough Coast Guard-approved floatation devices for everyone on board, and people younger than 12 are required to actually wear the vests on most boats.

No life jacket? Paddle boarders and kayakers can be issued $99 fine

It is worth your time to take a look at your life jackets and make sure they’re not too old.  The materials can degrade over time, which means the vest won’t be as effective as you need it to be in the case of an emergency.

There are several different types of life jackets available, and some may be more effective than others, depending on how you’re planning to spend your time on the water. You can click here for more information.

Naches River flood warning means strong, fast current and dangerous swimming conditions

No matter what your weekend plans involve, you are going to need to stay hydrated! First responders say you should start drinking water 24 hours before you begin an outdoor activity in the heat.  That gives your body time to absorb the water and adjust, which makes the water you drink during the day much more effective at preventing heat-related illness.

If you start feeling dizzy or feel a headache coming on, that’s a sign that you need to take a break and drink some water right away.  If you notice someone has stopped sweating in the heat, or if you see someone pass out, you should call 911.  In an emergency, first responders say the fastest way to cool someone down is to put ice packs wrapped in towels along the neck, under the arms, and along the groin area.