Warmer weather can also carry dangers

Okanagan residents reminded to take precautions when travelling along creeks and waterways

As the cool temperatures slowly begin to give way to the long, warm days that helped draw so many of us to the Okanagan, residents are heading out onto the trails and pathways to explore all the region has to offer.

But as we enjoy the sunshine on our faces and fresh air in our lungs, we should also keep in mind the dangers that could lie around us.

The rising temperatures and recent rainfall have brought a swift increase to the levels of creeks and rivers throughout the region. While the spring runoff has already resulted in flooding concerns for residents from Tulameen to Okanagan Falls, up to Naramata and throughout the valley, homeowners aren’t the only ones who need to keep a wary eye on local waterways.

The Okanagan has seen far too many tragedies in recent years when people have been swept away in rushing creeks. The team of swift-water rescue technicians with Penticton Search and Rescue have seen first-hand the dangers posed by local waterways.

“What you think is a safe place, walking up Penticton Creek or Ellis Creek, can turn into a very big problem in a heartbeat,” said Hamish Reidie, one of the swift-water rescue technicians waiting for the next alarm to sound.

The provincial government has issued safety tips urging people to keep themselves, their children and pets away from creeks and channels that can fill up quickly, and to stay off banks that can erode and become unstable. People living near waterways or in low-lying areas should also be aware of changing conditions and make sure drains around their property are kept clear.

It’s up to all of us to not throw caution to the wind in our rush to head out to enjoy the sunshine, and take the necessary precautions when travelling near rushing creeks and waterways.