BOISE -- In just a week, Idaho had at least nine drownings around the state, and state experts believe it's not over yet. Typically, the state averages 20 drownings per year.
Monday, the forest service informed KTVB that someone drowned on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River last Friday. We know they were floating the river with an outfitter near the area of the Papoose Fire, but are awaiting more details.
According to official reports KTVB has taken from state and local agencies, the nine drownings have happened near Payette, Twin Falls, Sugar City, Donnelly, Lewiston, Coeur d'Alene, in Lemhi County and in Boise.
"We have had a lot of drownings here lately this year in Idaho, and it's just a fact of living in Idaho," said David Cooper, Boise Fire battalion chief. "It gets really hot in the summertime. People enjoy going to the water. It's fun, but anytime you get a lot of people around the water, there's risk involved."
The nine drownings have been in rivers, lakes and irrigation canals. Victims ranged from two-years-old to 69-years-old and were of all levels of experience.
"Anybody can fall victim to water-related emergencies. Even strong swimmers," Cooper said.
The state tracks drowning information and notes Idaho always has a high rate.
"The thing that sets Idaho apart in the number of drowning deaths each year is our drowning deaths tend to take place in rivers, lakes and streams," Stephen Manning, Dept. of Health and Welfare Injury Prevention and Surveillance Program Manager, said.
According to state data most are in natural waterways, rather than pools or bathtubs. Forty percent of drownings from 2006 to 2010 were in rivers, followed by lakes at 17 percent, and canals at 13 percent. Swimming pools account for just under nine percent.
The Boise Fire Dive Team and Idaho Health and Welfare officials advise people to wear life jackets, take swimming lessons, and know your personal limits and your area, especially in cold Idaho water.
"Those waters tend to be quite cold even during summer months and can bring on rapid onset of hypothermia, which even will disable the strongest of swimmers," Manning said.
To learn more about water safety, click here.