KALISPELL – Recreational water sports are on the rise as the weather continues to warm up in Western Montana.
The Summitt Aquatics Fitness Instructor Adriana Saunier says that people often overestimate their swimming abilities this early in the season.
“People are not in very good swimming shape and they over-exert and that causes problems with exhaustion and potential drowning,” Saunier explained.
Saunier told MTN News that people should always swim with a buddy and let someone else know you’ll be at the lake or river.
Flathead County Sheriff Brian Heino stresses to always wear a life jacket, swim within your ability and be on the lookout for dangers in the water.
“When a log goes across the river and the water is essentially being pulled under that log is a big hazard for us because people get pulled under those,” says Heino.
Heino and Saunier both have suggestions if you see someone struggling in the water. If you are safely on dry land, throw something for the person to catch while also keeping yourself safe.
“Establish eye contact, call to them tell them to move towards you and if they can’t do it, if they start doing the up and down vertical bobbing, then you’re going to need to extend something to them. A tree branch, a boat oar,” Saunier says.
Heino recommends carrying a throw bag with you, in case someone does need help. Finally, when in doubt, call 9-1-1.