Yosemite NP warning good worldwide: Watch out for running water

Our Scout Troop readies for two summer camp excursions this summer, and Kathryn and I hope to get out somewhere not drought stricken for at least a weekend.  Generally we tack on a whitewater river run on the Scout trips, if we can find a good one for reasonable price.  Safety instructions always include the solid order to wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) at all times.  We have a few adult leaders trained in Safety Afloat, and we work to have the Scouts up to “swimmer” or “lifesaver” ability for the trips.

It’s a good idea to review all the rules for safety near water in the great outdoors.

The good video crew at Yosemite National Park posted this dramatic video story — please watch, and heed the warnings.  Doesn’t matter how well you swim, if you get pinned underwater by a powerful flow — and they are all powerful — you’re in trouble.  This story has a happy ending with chastened hikers who learned uncharted short cuts may not be a good idea.  For nearly a score of people in Yosemite NP the turnout was not wonderful, in the last ten years.

In Texas, drownings take about a hundred lives a year, averaging 81 child drownings each year:  “An average of 81 children drowned each year since DFPS [Department of Family Protective Services] began tracking these deaths in 2005. DFPS identified 76 water fatalities in 2005, 70 in 2006, 63 in 2007, 82 in 2008, 113 in 2009 and 84 in 2010, and 79 in 2011 as of August 31, 2011.”  [If you can find figures including adult drownings, please let us know in the comments.]

Please watch, and pass along to anyone you know who will be hiking this year.

Text from the filmmakers:

Sixteen people died in Yosemite’s rivers and creeks between 2002 and 2011. Water in Yosemite is more dangerous than it looks, and stories like Matthew’s are a common occurrence.

Go outside, have great fun, see America.  Be careful when you do.

5 Responses to Yosemite NP warning good worldwide: Watch out for running water

  1. Ellie says:

    Works fine now, Ed. Thank you.


  2. Ed Darrell says:

    Moved without notice, Ellie. Sorry. Should be visible now, with the new YouTube URL.

    Thanks for the heads up.


  3. Ellie says:

    The video was removed. Too bad.


  4. Ed Darrell says:

    There’s a name for the turbulence downstream of those little dams, among canoers and kayakers. They are called “drowning machines.”

    For good reason, as you know. Glad you came through, George!


  5. george.w says:

    I went inner-tubing with friends on the Yakima river in Washington in about 1972. It’s a small river, easy to float, and we sort of lost track of our position. Presently we found ourselves approaching a small dam. There was no structure of any kind around it – who knows when it was put in or why, but it was only a few feet high. We went over, my friend (who was a powerful swimmer) made it just fine but I (not much of a swimmer) fell off my tube.

    OK, some beer was involved.

    I got caught in debris in the turbulent water for what seemed like a long time, but finally made it to a sand bar. Where I lay, exhausted, for a much longer time. So yeah… not confined to Yosemite.


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