Juanita Beach in Kirkland (Courtesy of City of Kirkland)

Juanita Beach in Kirkland (Courtesy of City of Kirkland)

County reports a ‘concerning number' of drownings already in 2023

At least 12 people have drowned in rivers, lakes, and Puget Sound waters this year.

After a “concerning number” of drownings and close calls this spring, King County officials are urging the public to take caution this summer when recreating and swimming in rivers, lakes and Puget Sound waters.

Drowning is reportedly the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4 in King County. Last year, 29 people drowned from preventable situations in King County, nearly twice the number of drownings that occurred in 2018.

“Our rivers and lakes feel like a treat on hot summer days, but people have to understand just how dangerous the water is. Shallow water seems warm, but moving or deep water is very cold,” said Christie True, director of King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks.

County officials say Black residents in King County - who often have less access to pools and swimming lessons - are two-and-a-half times more likely to drown than white residents. Recent immigrants and people who are unfamiliar with the region’s colder, swifter waters are also reportedly at greater risk due to language and cultural barriers, according to the county.

The nationwide shortage of lifeguards has also been attributed to increased risks at local lakes. Officials say rivers are particularly dangerous this time of year because people are looking for ways to cool off, but the water in rivers can still be extremely cold, which can cause even strong swimmers to quickly lose stamina and experience hypothermia.

“We want people to enjoy spending time along our waterways this summer, but they have to be smart about it,” said King County Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall. “The Sheriff’s Office has well-trained rescue crews, but the sheer size of King County makes it difficult to get to some of these remote locations when someone in the water is in trouble.”

Experts at the King County Sheriff’s Office, Public Health - Seattle & King County, and the Department of Natural Resources and Parks shared these potentially life-saving tips for anyone considering going into lakes and rivers this summer:

• Wear a life jacket

• Don’t consume alcohol or drugs while swimming or recreating in the water

• When children are swimming, designate an adult to watch and stay nearby and supervise

• Always tell someone where you plan to enter and exit a river before you leave home

• Sometimes the best decision is to not enter the water if conditions appear riskier than you expected

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentnews.us.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://kentnews.us/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Kent Police use drone, K-9 unit to capture assault suspect

Man had fled after fight with security guard at apartment complex along SE Kent-Kangley Road

Jail bars. File photo
Renton man convicted in 2018 Des Moines homicide

Jurors found 28-year-old Yourhighness Jeramiah Bolar of Renton guilty of two felony charges.

One of two victims identified in fiery Kent crash

Kristen Anne Meyers, 53, died in May 11 crash on West Hill, according to medical examiner

City-owned ShoWare Center in Kent loses $742,675 in 2023

Losses lower than projected but expenses continue to exceed revenue at 6,200-seat arena

Kent firefighters extinguish two fires on the same morning | Photos

Friday, May 17 at apartment leasing office in the Valley and at a vacant East Hill house

Courtesy Photo, City of Kent
City of Kent population drops by 1,051 in 2023 compared to 2022

Decline similar to many cities of 50,000 or more across the nation, according to U.S. Census Bureau

Kent Police Blotter: April 25 to May 8

Incidents include burglaries, robberies, shootings

Rape charges dismissed against former Kent school bus driver

Prosecutors decide they could not prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt due to medical tests

Feds indict 9 South King County residents on drug trafficking charges

Those accused from Federal Way, Kent, Renton, Enumclaw

A screenshot of King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn speaking about a proposed amendment for the proposed $20 minimum wage ordinance. (Screenshot)
King County approves $20.29 minimum wage for unincorporated areas

Councilmember Reagan Dunn and more than a dozen business owners argued tips and health care expenses should be a part of the new wage. The council passed the ordinance without the amendment.

Dave Upthegrove. COURTESY PHOTO
Upthegrove one of seven candidates for state lands commissioner

His King County Council member’s district includes part of Kent

COURTESY PHOTO, King County Elections
Candidates file for Kent-area races for Congress, Legislature

Incumbents face challengers in two Congressional contests and four state House races