SEATTLE - It may be warming up this weekend, but public safety officials are reminding everyone that the temperature of the water is still very cold.
"It’s pretty chilly," said kayaker Destiny Wong. "I was out there a few feet just a second ago, so it’s pretty cold."
Like many others, Destiny said she finds her happy place when out on the water. "I just like touching the water, kind of getting away and kind of disconnecting, even though we’re like in the middle of the city you forget about it when you’re out there."
We met Destiny and Colin Wong at Lake Union who aren’t new to the water. They always do safety checks before heading out.
"Making sure we have the appropriate equipment like vests, whistles, that the air is where it needs to be [in the inflatable kayak], that in case anything happens we are able to pump water out," said Colin. "We have water to drink when we’re out there and snacks in case. You never know what’s happening out there, so we want to be prepared for the worst case scenario."
First responders are urging everyone to practice safety out on the water this season. Kristin Tinsley of Seattle Fire said the cold water can pose a health risk.
"Last year we had several incidents where, unfortunately, there were drownings that occurred on Lake Washington. In several of those incidents, it was reported that the person who drowned was a very strong swimmer and so one thing we want the public to be aware of is even though the weather may be warm outside, the water temperature is not going to be as warm, and it is much colder, which can cause your muscles to cramp up when you’re swimming," said Tinsley.
Tinsley is also getting the word out on how technology can be useful in an emergency. The Seattle Fire spokesperson said if you have an iPhone, you can drop a pin on your map to provide exact coordinates to emergency responders on the water.
This week, Seattle Police and Fire crews rescued two adults and a two-year-old from Lake Washington. It was on Wednesday, when weather conditions were windy and the water was choppy.
The Mt. Baker Rowing and Sailing Center also helped with the water rescue during the high wind conditions. While everyone was safely rescued, safety officials said only the child was wearing a life vest.
"Luckily, the outcome was positive and everyone was OK, but it’s always a lesson to learn to always wear a life jacket and check weather conditions before you go out," said Tinsley.