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Officials Warn: River Running Fast And Cold
Life jackets can be borrowed from the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Station 29 in Knights Ferry. - photo by Marg Jackson/The Leader

With one river rescue conducted already on the Stanislaus River near Knights Ferry this season – those involved pulled from the water safely last week – residents looking to cool off as the temperatures heat up are being warned. The river is running high and cold.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reported that the flow in the Stanislaus River is currently at about 3,000 cfs, cubic feet per second, and will remain at that level throughout the month of May. Much of the water in the river right now is coming from the snowmelt in the mountains, adding to the danger. Not only is the water moving rapidly but the temperature is extremely cold, which can incapacitate a person within a few minutes if they are thrown out of a raft, canoe or kayak.

Last year, several rescues were conducted and more than one person was lost, drowned as they were swept along the river, as the flows remained high for much of the summer.

Emergency officials are reminding residents that loaner life jackets are available at the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Station 29 in Knights Ferry, but urge those looking for some recreational boating or floating along the river to wait until the flows have slowed down.

Inexperienced rafters and kayakers should not be in the water at this time, officials added.

There is also a concern, with the Memorial Day weekend on the horizon, that people will take to the river to beat the start of the summer heat.

For those that plan to hit the water, authorities offer some tips including: always wear a life jacket, don’t use cheap plastic rafts or inner tubes for a float down the river, as they can easily snag or pop on debris in the river, and never go alone. Make sure someone knows you are going to be on the river and provide an estimated arrival time at your destination. Carry a cell phone in an airtight bag or container for use in case of emergency.