BOISE -- The Boise River officially opened for the 2013 float season Friday. But, while floaters might be ready to take part in the city of trees tradition, the river is still very cold. That's just one of many hazards emergency responders say you should watch out for, to keep your fun from turning to tragedy.
Scott and Brieanna Robinson were the first official river floaters of the season Friday.
"We're Really excited," said Scott. "It's just going to be a fun relaxing day for father and daughter."
They were the first of thousands expected to float the river this year. But, while you'll probably be thinking about fun in and on the river, emergency responders want to make sure you're also thinking about safety.
"There are always hazards in the river. It's a natural place," said Boise Fire Captain Scott Hall. "Moving water itself is a hazard."
We caught up with Hall and some other Boise firefighters who were training for possible river rescues. They were getting familiar with their brand new boat. They say it's safer for them and floaters, and can run in just four inches of water.
They want everyone to wear water shoes in the river, to keep from getting cut. But they say, hypothermia is probably the biggest danger you face out here, all year long.
"Even on a 100 degree day, you can become hypothermic," said Hall.
Drowning is obviously another big danger. So, life-jackets are required for everyone in a large boat, and anyone 14-and-under must be wearing their jackets.
"Life jackets save lives," said Ada County Sheriff Deputy Hyrum Jones. "You get caught in trouble, that will keep you afloat. It will give you time to work with."
Emergency responders say if you do that, don't drink, and stay away from debris in and on the edge of the river, you should be fine.
"The main thing is to use a little common sense," said Boise Police Officer Luis Gutierrez. "You'd be surprised how far that can take you."
The latest temperatures indicate river water coming out of the Lucky Peak Reservoir is in the low 50-degree range. For complete information, visit the Bureau of Reclamation.
Roberts also reminds floaters to wear the right clothing and pack the right gear for their trip.
Floating essentials include, but are not limited to:
- Float tube or raft
- sturdy shoes or water sandals due to sharp rocks
Two relatively new river regulations are in effect this summer.
- Jumping from bridges over the Boise River is allowed. However, police say you must do it safely, and stay 50 feet away from any floaters.
- Also, authorities will be making sure no one blocks the Greenbelt, since those walking, running, and biking along the path have complained that floaters take up too much space in certain areas.
There are no set fines for these infractions, but police can issue a citation for rule breakers.
Roberts also wants to remind floaters that the river is low right now, and to expect levels to drop further.