Day 1: Kern River Safety Week

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Day 1: Kern River Safety Week

Taking a quick dip in the cool water during this heat can be great, but officials want to ensure that you’re safe when you do so. 

The Kern County Sheriff’s Department launched a river safety campaign Monday, partnering with the Kern River Conservancy to remind you that, while the Kern River is a good way to cool off, it can be dangerous. 

The kern county sheriff’s urged extreme caution Monday to anyone wanting to test the waters. This message: stay out and stay alive.

The sheriff’s office updated the sign at the mouth of the canyon Monday to reflect the total number of deadly drownings in the river as recorded over the last five decades. 

It now says “298 lives have been lost in the river since 1968.” 

2017 tied 1985 for most deaths in the river at 16. Because of this winter’s snow pack, KCSO fears the river will even more dangerous. 

“We expect that river levels are going to be high — much higher than average — and will be more dangerous than normal,” said Sgt. Steve Williams. 

Leaders urged people caught by the current, public officials say it’s crucial that you float on your back with your feet up, in a lawn chair position.

Officials say the river can be unpredictable and dangerous. They also warn it will rise significantly this year due as mountain more mountain snow than usual melts.

“This isn’t regular white water, this is big water this year. and the flows are really strong and really fast,” said Gary Ananien, executive director for Kern River Conservancy.

Since 1968, 294 people have lost their lives in the Kern River. 

“If you’re planning on getting in the water, know your limitations,” said Ananien. “Such as; are you a good swimmer? How does your body react to cold water? Are you planning on drinking all day and then getting in the water. Those are some things you need to think about and understand what you are getting into. 

Deputies want to make sure that number doesn’t go up so they’ve launched a safety campaign.

The goal of this campaign is to make sure that there are no lives lost and we want to make sure people safely enjoy,” said Angela Monroe, public information officer with the Kern County Sheriff’s Office.

The Kern County Sherif’s Office and the Kern river conservancy will be holding three separate informational meetings next week to encourage safe and enjoyable use of the river.

“We want people to come up here and enjoy the river,” said Ananien. “And, we want people to experience the river and the lake. We want them to do it responsibly and safely not just for yourself, but for your kids as well.”

The three sessions are open to the public. 

Monday, April 29 at 10 a.m. at the mouth of Kern Canyon
Season preview and safety

Thursday, May 2 at 10 a.m. at Keysville
Water safety demonstrations

Monday, May 6 at 10 a.m. at Riverside Park in Kernville
Safe enjoyment of Kern’s waters 

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