DONIPHAN, MO (KFVS) - Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) Water Patrol Division conducted around 20 water rescues, including a near drowning, due to people getting caught in the limbs and root system in the Current River, according to the Eleven Point Ranger District.
Sometimes called "strainers", limbs and root wads in rivers are obstacles that river-goers need to avoid, according to the district.
Several troopers responded to rescues and 20 more people were rescued by other citizen boaters.
Here are a few tips for being safe while enjoying the river:
- Wear Your Personal Flotation Device (PFD). If you don't wear it, it won't work---that’s the plain and simple truth.
- Be aware of current river conditions. Rivers in the Ozarks can rise rapidly. If you're a novice - or even an experienced - paddler, please take a look at the river before deciding to get on it. Several were severely impacted by the flooding. Many have new gravel bars, log jams, strainers, and other obstacles that present potential safety hazards to floaters.
- Be weather aware. River are moving, living entities influenced greatly by weather. It is a good idea to check weather before launching, especially if you are overnighting on a river.
- Be cautious of high water. Launching in high water or flood stage is a personal decision of risk that you must carefully make, especially if you have other people in your party. Whatever the conditions, be sure your paddling and swift-water rescue skills are up to the challenge and that you are properly geared.
- Be extra careful with children. Remember, the law requires children under the age of 12 to wear a PFD when floating. Floating a river with kids is entirely a personal decision. No one can recommend to you whether you should or shouldn't take them along on a float, as only you know your paddling skill level and your ability to handle whatever river conditions you are presented with, including dealing with obstacles. Children can also be unpredictable in their movements or behaviors, so you also have to factor this into the equation.
- Do not rely on cell phones on rivers. This is still rugged, remote country where cell service is very limited, especially down in river corridors. Also, there are no pay phones.
- Preparing for overnight canoeing trips. Even if the weather is predicted to be sunny and fair, it's just a wise rule of thumb to set your campsite up on high ground with an escape route at your back. You never know when weather occurring upstream will affect the water downstream. Also, don't leave your boat and gear down by the river. Park them above your tent so that if the river comes up, your transportation doesn't float away. Here's a handy "river-is-coming-up" tip: if you see a clear river beginning to cloud or debris such as leaves and limbs coming through, most likely the river is coming up and you should seek high ground immediately.