LCSO boat patrol to regulate and educate on Lane Co. rivers and lakes

      SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - As temperatures rise, the Lane County Sheriff's Office says marine violations go up as well.

      LCSO deputies monitor five rivers and dozens of lakes year round. The marine patrol unit ramps up their effort to educate river-goers about water recreation laws and how to stay safe as more people seek the shores in the warmer months.

      Vessels must have one correct-sized life jacket for each person on board. Intertubes and play toys are exempt from this rule, but Lane County Deputy Charles Douglas said the risk remains. | Oregon Boaters Handbook

      "They're susceptible to puncture and deflation, and I couldn't possibly tell you how many people I've pulled out of the river due to that," said Deputy Douglas.

      Floaters and boaters should also avoid piles of debris called strainers. Douglas said water can pass through these masses, however bodies usually cannot.

      If avoiding a strainer isn't possible, people in the river should swim towards the mass of debris.

      "The best thing you can do ... is start swimming directly at it. As soon as you come into contact with it, start climbing like your life depends on it," said Deputy Douglas, "You do not want to be swept down below on the underside of it. You'll get pinned under there and not be able to free yourself."

      Officials say the river water temperature hovers around 50 degrees, which poses a danger to swimmers.

      Douglas said of the cold temperature, "it affects all of your motor movements and muscles as you're trying to get the strength to pull yourself out of the river once you encounter something like that."

      Drinking alcohol may seem like a goo d way for boaters to beat the sun, but even those paddling can be cited for operating under the influence.

      Those spending a day on the water should always let someone know where they plan to go, and how long they expect to be out.