River warning and flood danger

Penticton and District Search and Rescue issued a warning to people this week to be extra cautious around moving water in the area.

Dale Jorgensen, search and rescue president, said creeks and rivers are starting to run now because of the spring runoff.

“It doesn’t take much water to be swept downstream,” he said. “And the first thing people do is try to stand up and then they get caught in debris.”

Small trees in the running water also pose a risk if people are swept under them and get stuck.

A situation that can result in fatalities, he said.

People should also avoid standing on unstable banks next to any moving water.

The cold water temperatures need to be taken into consideration as well.

Exposure to the chilly water  can induce a heart attack or people might be unable to breathe and start panicking.

Staying off lakes, which are still partially frozen at this time of year, is also suggested, because the ice is potentially unstable.

So far this spring, the search and rescue team has not been involved in any swift water rescues.

Jorgensen says he just wants people to be more aware and not put themselves in harm’s way in the  fast moving, cold water.

“I don’t mean to be doom and gloom, I just want people to be safe,” he said.

Standing shallow water doesn’t pose as much of a risk, but is still causing problems in some parts of the Okanagan.

Shelley Pohlmann, office manager at St. Andrews By-The-Lake Golf Club in Kaleden, said they are currently dealing with an abnormally high level of ground water and spring runoff.

She said the golf course is not open because one of their fairways is flooded and too mushy to golf on.

Right now they are hoping to open on April 13.

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