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Opinion: Give water its respect

Two incidents offer stark reminders of the danger posed by Chilliwack’s waterways.

Two incidents offer stark reminders of the danger posed by Chilliwack’s waterways.

One ended well on Sunday, the other ended tragically Monday evening.

Both reflect circumstances that are all too common each summer.

The Vedder River is an inviting place. But its beauty hides its danger. Every year members of Chilliwack Search and Rescue remind recreational enthusiasts to treat the river with respect. The currents are unpredictable, the gravel bars treacherous, and the snags and underwater obstacles lie in wait.

And yet every year there are those who test its power. They venture into the water unprepared and under-appreciative of the danger the water holds. They won’t wear life vests, and use equipment better suited to a backyard pool.

The consequences are predictable – as a young mom found out on Sunday.

She was fortunate. Others on the river came to her rescue and pulled her off the “strainers” before she could be swept further down stream.

Another incident Friday evening brought out member’s of Chilliwack’s Search and Rescue, who pulled two people off a gravel bar near Peach Road after a tree root punched a whole in their inner tube.

But even the placid waters of Cultus Lake pose a risk.

On Monday, an evening swim ended tragically after a man drowned at Entrance Bay. Chilliwack RCMP are blaming alcohol for the death and are reminding people that alcohol and water are a lethal combination.

It’s a warning they make every year, but one that’s too often ignored.

Ironically, the death comes just as National Drowning Prevention Week is set to begin.

The event, sponsored by the Royal Life Saving Society, aims to raise awareness about the dangers of the water and the need for caution.

A lake or river can be cool and refreshing, particularly when temperatures begin to soar like they have during the past few days.

But the water also demands respect. Failing to provide that respect will only bring heartbreak.

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