Warmer weather brings added water safety concerns

MERCER ISLAND, Wash. -- Cooler weather this summer season means fewer water incidents.  So far this year, not a single drowning on south Lake Washington off Mercer Island.  But with a warm weekend ahead, marine patrol agencies are urging caution.

Jamie Phillips is wrapping up her paddle board after wrapping up a successful adventure on Lake Washington.

“Well, I just bought my paddle board so I've been out maybe five or six times this summer,” said Phillips.

She always brings a lifejacket along for the ride.

“This one has a safety whistle inside so I think that’s a pretty cool feature,” said Phillips.

Safety is what people seemed to be keeping in mind on Lake Washington so far this year.

Sgt. Brian Noel heads the Mercer Island Police Marine Patrol and reports no drownings to report on the lake, but…

“There seems to be a lot more people testing the water a little earlier and with the water levels being higher than normal, they’ve had a lot more rescues out on the river,” said Mercer Island Marine Patrol Sgt. Brian Noel.

Mobile Marine Services owner Matthew Hutchinson thinks a lack of drownings is purely because of a lack of warm sunshine.

“Seafair last year, there was someone who drowned, fell off their boat.  We went out to Seafair and there wasn’t near as many boats as there was last year,” said Hutchinson.

Now Noel is ready for it.

“It’s got a sensor in it. And if I get more than a foot or two underwater it automatically deploys a Co2 cartridge in here and it puffs it up,” said  Noel.

He’s equipped with a wetsuit, and his boat, with lights and radar, too often responds to water recoveries or drownings.

“Swimming in a swimming pool versus swimming out here with a foot waves or rivers with a different current. It’s a whole lot different than swimming in a swimming pool,” said Noel.

One of the biggest factors for injuries or drownings is alcohol.  Even though everyone knows you shouldn’t drink and boat, people still do it and it still causes problems.

With warm and sunny weekend weather, Noel’s safety reminder is simple.

“Don’t end up in that situation in the first place. Know how to swim and wear your life vest,” said Noel.

Both Pierce and King County Sheriff’s Marine Patrol say they’ll be out with multiple boats anticipating busy waterway.

Unlike Mercer Island Marine Patrol, the King County Sheriff's Office says it's already had more drownings this year compared to last year.