Fast waters in Alexandria area create hazardsRushing, high waters add an element of danger to what might be a leisurely float down a sleepy river.
By: Wendy Wilson, Alexandria Echo Press
Rushing, high waters add an element of danger to what might be a leisurely float down a sleepy river.
As warm air and sunny skies lure outdoor enthusiasts toward the water, this year’s heavy rainfall has created hazards in the form of stronger currents.
A popped tube coupled with fast-moving, unseasonably high water levels left two women tubing down the Long Prairie River to seek assistance from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Sunday (see related story).
Becoming stranded without a mode of transport back to shore is a circumstance that could happen to anyone recreating on the water. A canoe could overturn. A motor could fail. A paddle could be lost.
“The currents are obviously a lot stronger,” Water Patrol Deputy John Holm said of Sunday’s rescue on the Long Prairie River. “The girls did everything right. They stayed in one spot on the bank line.”
What should someone do if they find themselves in similar circumstances?
“Try not to panic,” Holm said. “Try to stay calm and yell for help until help arrives.”
Strong currents may pull a person underwater, according to Holm. It is crucial to be aware of the current’s power.
“Grab something on shore to hold yourself from going further down,” he said.
If traveling on the water, Holm recommended wearing a life jacket and bringing an extra tube along for the ride in case one deflates or becomes lost.
Always swim with “a buddy,” he said. “Know your swimming ability.”
The higher, rushing waters are also picking up additional objects from the shoreline and bringing them out into the water.
“Watch for logs and debris,” Holm said.
He said the average person would have great difficulty swimming against the current, especially if they had to pull another person to safety.
“It would be tough,” he said, if not impossible.