PORTLAND, Ore. -- It’s advice too many think is reserved for inexperienced swimmers, say local first responders.
But the Nassib kids, out boating on the Columbia River with their family Sunday, know that even the best swimmers can find themselves struggling.
“When you breathe in the air, you can accidentally breathe in the water, which goes into your lungs, which limits your ability to breathe, which is very dangerous and can lead to death,” said 10-year-old Nikki. “So life jackets can prevent that from happening.”
“They keep you afloat, and if you don't know how to swim that great, they can be a real lifesaver, literally,” said 11-year-old Arian.
The siblings and their parents brought their own lifejackets, but for boaters who don’t, firefighters across the area are pointing to an easy, free option: life jacket lending stations.
Simply put, swimmers and boaters can borrow a jacket, no charge, then return it when they're done.
It works wonders in Yamhill County, where volunteers restocked a station at Rogers Landing this weekend.
And in Silverton, firefighters raised money to install two new ones at Silverton city park and the Silverton reservoir.
First responders in Portland say life jackets are especially important this year, after our record-setting winter, adding the now-healthy snowpack and swollen rivers upped the intensity at popular swimming spots.
“The higher river levels mean the water is going to be colder and it's going to move faster,” said Lt. Rich Chatman. “For and for people who are not used to swimming in this kind of water, once you tire out and that water level is above your head, you can be in a really dangerous spot.”
To find life jacket loaner stations near you, provided by the non-profit Boat U.S. Foundation, click here.