alcohol prohibited; bBe responsible, secure your gear and get ready to get wet in the cold, rushing current
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — As temperatures continue to rise in Bend this week, the Deschutes River is a popular spot for residents and visitors to cool off.
However, as more people flock to the river to swim, paddle, and surf, Bend’s public amenities — the Bend Park and Recreation District, the City of Bend, the Bend Police, and Bend Fire and Rescue — are reminding everyone before boarding the to take appropriate safety precautions in the water.
For a successful day on the river, the agencies in a rare joint statement on Wednesday urged users to “Know Before You Go” with the following safety reminders:
- Alcohol is prohibited on the river and in parks. Do not drink while relaxing in or around the river. Recreating under the influence can be extremely dangerous, even deadly. If you’re caught drinking on the river, you can face a subpoena and a fine of up to $750.
- Swimmers should be aware of the warning signs when approaching the Colorado Ave. Bridge and stay to the left of the tree. Upstream access to Bend Whitewater Park’s middle channel is reserved for experienced boaters with the right gear. It should never be used by swimmers.
- Wear a life jacket. State law requires them for all boaters, paddleboarders, and children under the age of 12. Whistles are also required on boats and paddleboards.
- Consider your own and your child’s abilities before entering the river and always supervise children in and around the water. There are no lifeguards on the river, so take responsibility for your safety and heed all warning signs.
- Use durable equipment designed for river recreation, not pool toys or inferior hoses. Rent river gear from local retailers and Park & Float across from The Pavilion on Simpson Ave. and Riverbend Park via Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe.
- Wear comfortable, secure footwear. Flip-flops can easily fall off in the river and bare feet can get injured by rocks, gravel and/or hot sidewalks.
- To be responsible. For everyone’s safety, familiarize yourself with the Oregon State Marine Board’s river recreation regulations.
- Secure your gear. Help keep the river clean and debris-free.
- Be prepared to get wet. Swimming the fish ladder through Bend Whitewater Park requires active participation. The river current is fast and the water is cold.
“We’re excited for everyone to be taking advantage of the Deschutes River on these hot summer days, but we urge everyone to take the proper safety precautions to have a safe experience,” said Don Horton, executive director of Bend Park and Recreation District.
“The Bend Police Department is asking everyone to do their part — follow the rules, recreate safely and don’t risk ruining your day by being subpoenaed for drinking on the river,” said Mike Krantz, Police Commissioner from Bend. “No one wants to see another tragedy on the Deschutes this summer.”
“Bend Fire & Rescue is trained in rapid water rescue, but we can’t prevent accidents in the first place,” said Todd Riley, Bend Fire Chief. “We want people to follow the rules, use good judgment, and have a safe and fun experience out there.”
For kayakers or surfers using the more advanced stretches of whitewater at Bend Whitewater Park, the district introduced new safety measures earlier this summer:
- The use of leashes is prohibited in the park. To achieve compliance with the rule change, BRPD will flatten the surf wave for all surfers when a leash is observed.
- Life jackets and helmets are highly recommended as whitewater must-haves. Bend Park and Recreation has partnered with Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe to offer rental vests and helmets at a kiosk near the surf break.
- Helmets and PFDs worn should be properly fitted and meet the appropriate standards for Class III or IV whitewater.
For more information on safety in river recreation go to bendparksandrec.org/float.