“Stay out, stay alive,” is the mantra State Parks rangers are repeating as the Auburn State Recreation Area serves as a regional draw for both sun seekers who know to stay onshore and misguided thrill seekers willing to risk their lives for a heart-pumping adrenaline rush.
On Sunday, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office reported deputies and a helicopter crew were at the confluence for the second time in less than a week to search the American River. The search a week ago was for a missing hiker who had wandered off and was found on land. This time, around noon Sunday, it was for “a man in the water,” the Sheriff’s Office said.
The man is reported to have made it out of the water on his own in an American River that was running a strong 16,000 cubic feet per second, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Supervising Ranger Scott Liske said that warm weather Sunday brought people to the park and the warming trend should increase activity in coming weeks — particularly on weekends.
“The water is cold and fast and higher than normal right now,” Liske said. “The advice we have for people not going on guided whitewater trips is to stay out, stay alive.”
One of the best safety measures before going near the water is to cinch up a life vest, Liske said. Making it easier for adults with children are life vests that have been placed at high-use areas and are available to borrow at no charge.
With a vest, a person going accidentally into the water can flip onto their back and float with legs up to avoid rocks and snags, Liske said.
With no vest, the chances of survival go down. But there is still a chance.
“If you don’t have a vest, just follow the water and swim as fast and hard as you can to get out of the whitewater,” Liske said.
Liske said he also recommends wearing swimwear and not heavy clothing that could be saturated and create more strength-sapping weight if you end up in the water.
CLICK HERE to see original article and photos in the Auburn Journal.