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  • Dr. Hicks

How can I stay safe and still enjoy the river?

Nothing says summer in Nevada County quite like a day at the river. As the founding president of SYRCL, and a board member for more than 30 years, the Yuba is dear to my heart. It’s the best place I know of to recharge one’s spirit and cool off on a hot day.

But a river can also be dangerous, especially this year. Snow pack in the Sierra is far above normal because of our very long and wet winter. This means runoff from snow melt will make our Sierra rivers higher than normal for quite some time this spring and summer.

While it may appear calm, the current under the surface can be quite strong, especially early in the season. Every year there are drownings and near-drownings on the Yuba. Some are related to alcohol: people with judgement or coordination impaired by alcohol jump or fall in. Others occur when people are so anxious to get back in the river after a long winter and are simply caught unaware by the fast-moving water and swept away.

If you see someone in distress and can help without endangering your own life get that person out of the water as quickly as possible and CALL FOR ASSISTANCE. If the victim is unresponsive, open the airway and give two rescue breaths by mouth to mouth that make the chest rise. If the person remains unresponsive, begin CPR. (Do you know CPR?)

Whether you drive to a picnic spot near Bridgeport or hike the back trails along Edwards Crossing, there are a few other things to keep in mind to make sure you have a safe and enjoyable time.

First, be sure to stay hydrated. Our bodies are about 60% water, and water is key to optimal functioning and peak performance. The first symptoms of dehydration can be vague – a headache or feeling tired, lightheaded, or cranky – rather than the classic dry mouth and thirst. But if you experience any of these symptoms while playing outside, take a few minutes and have some water, an electrolyte drink or some other beverage.

Each year, winter water moves rocks and changes the depth of pools. Be sure you know how deep the water is at your favorite spot this year before jumping in. Diving into the Yuba is dangerous due to the possibility of hitting your head on the bottom and ending up with a head injury or a broken neck.

A common river injury is cut feet from broken glass. Please don’t take glass to the river! If you see any glass left behind and can safely remove it, please do. You could be saving someone a trip to urgent care for stitches.

Wear sturdy shoes. Slippery rocks and unstable ground can mean scrapes, cuts, sprains, pulled or strained muscles, or broken bones. Consider taking a walking stick for stability, slow down when the terrain is uneven, and watch out for exposed roots and jutting rocks.

Take along plenty of snacks. Protein bars, trail mix and fresh fruit can replenish energy after exerting yourself in the outdoors. Just remember the Golden Rule of the River – if you pack it in, please pack it out!

We hope you have a safe and fun outdoor season, but should you find yourself suffering from the not so pleasant effects of too much sun, bee stings, poison oak, cuts, abrasions or other medical problems requiring urgent care, know you can count on Yubadocs to get you back in one piece and on the road or back to the river again.


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