RIVER SAFETY: 3 things to consider before taking a swim - KMSP-TV

RIVER SAFETY: 3 things to consider before taking a swim

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High water is slowing the efforts to find a missing man who leapt into the St. Croix River to save his nephew, but officials say the unfortunate ordeal is an opportunity to raise awareness about how dangerous fast-flowing waters can be.

Calvin Vang, 11, was rescued by a Good Samaritan who jumped from a 30-foot cliff after hearing his cries. He had been fishing with his uncle, 21-year-old Touhu Vang, when he slipped and fell in.

As crews continue to search for Vang, the St. Croix River keeps raging. Although the search and recovery efforts are obviously important to the Coon Rapids man's family, the sheriff says the safety of his staff is important too.

The search boats were out on the water on Tuesday, but the nets were not. Recent rainfall raised the danger level, making it too risky to drag the river.

"We weren't able to keep the boats in line to be able to do that," Sheriff Rick Duncan told Fox 9 News. "It's just way too fast."

Vang likely drowned while trying to save his nephew, and it's a painful reminder of how dangerous Minnesota's waters can be.

"The river is violent," Duncan warned. "It's current underneath, and so forth -- people can be dragged underneath, and there are eddies that circulate around."

TIP 1: RESPECT THE RISK

According to Duncan, even the best swimmers should expect the unexpected when it comes to any river in Minnesota right now.

"It changes every single day, so you never know what you might be hitting or be entangled in," Duncan explained.

In fact, the St. Croix wasn't the only river in Minnesota to see a tragedy unfold on its banks over the weekend. In St. Paul Park, crews recovered the body of a 14-year-old boy who drowned in the Mississippi River.

TIP 2: WATCH THE TEMPERATURE

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is also concerned about the high water; however, the water temperatures give them pause too. The average is running at about 65 degrees, and anything below 70 is considered dangerous.

"You can jump in that cold water and your body can all of a sudden go into shock, which will cause you to do an involuntary gasp," Kara Owens, of the DNR said. "You can breathe in that water and it can take less than half a cup of water in order for you to drown."

TIP 3: CHOOSE SAFETY, PREVENTION

Vang and his nephew were apparently fishing on the rocks bordering the St. Croix River before the boy fell and Vang disappeared. Duncan says there is nothing illegal about that; however, he says it is dangerous because the rocks are slippery from the river and the rain.

Duncan recommends finding a safer fishing spot and urges shore-line fishers to wear a life jacket.

WATER SAFETY RESOURCES

The Fox 9 Investigators recently held a first-of-its-kind experiment at Foss Swim School to see how many people know what drowning looks and sounds like, and it demonstrates the distress signs people need to be able to spot.

INVESTIGATORS: Drowning is Silent

With summer heat on the horizon, many parents may be considering an outing to an area pool -- but some common activities can actually increase the risk that a child could underestimate drowning dangers.

WATER SAFETY 101: 3 mistakes parents make with young kids

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