BOISE, Idaho — The floating season for the Boise River will officially kick off on July 1, but the dangers of the river presented themselves on Saturday when a woman died after witnesses say her raft lost air and she couldn't get out of the river.
Boise Fire Battalion Chief David Cooper explained some essential tips that will help keep floaters safe on the Boise River, including the deceptively cold waters of the river.
"People need to be aware that the river is extremely cold, it hovers around 55 degrees all summer long, so if you do end up in the water you need to be prepared for that shock," he said.
Cooper also strongly recommends that everyone on the river wear a life jacket, even though Idaho law only requires children under the age of 14 to wear one.
"Wearing a life jacket is kind of like wearing a seat belt," Cooper explained. "It's no guarantee that there isn't going to be a tragedy on the water, but it's the single most important thing you can do to prevent or limit an accident from happening."
The Boise River is a natural waterway, with debris and hazards throughout it that people need to be aware of. Cooper says while Boise Fire does try to clear some of those hazards, people shouldn't assume how safe the river is.
"There are more and more people on the river every single year, they're floating the river in everything from tubes to rafts, to inflatable mattresses and it leads to this impression that the waterway is safe from start to finish and it's really not there are hazards up and down that water," the battalion chief explained.
For how to safely navigate the river, Cooper said people should try to stay near the center of the river, rather than floating towards the riverbanks.
He added that people who do find themselves in trouble need to follow a cardinal rafting rule.
"What you need to do is you need to put your feet downstream so that any rocks or any other obstructions that are in the way, you can easily bounce off of them and be looking ahead down the water for a safe way to get out."