- Associated Press - Friday, April 8, 2016

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) - After a high number of drownings occurred in Missouri in 2015, canoeists are being reminded to take safety precautions when floating along area rivers.

The Joplin Globe (https://bit.ly/1S7tFoS ) reports that canoe outfitters in McDonald County, the state water patrol and the McDonald County Health Department are emphasizing safety this season.

“The water patrol said their priority this year is no drownings,” said Pat Tinsley of Big Elk Floats and Camping in Pineville.

Last year, Missouri lakes and rivers had 58 reports of drownings, twice the number reported in 2014. Many of the deaths occurred on popular southwest Missouri streams.

Rainfall was a factor last year. Many of the deaths occurred in May, June and July when total rainfall hit 23.17 inches in southwest Missouri, according to the National Weather Service. That’s more than 50 percent higher than the long-term average for those months, which is 15.26 inches.

High water presents a number of dangers, including hidden underwater entanglements, hydraulics at low-head dams and stronger currents.

“People don’t understand the force of water,” said Rod Lett of Wayside Campground and Elk River Floats and Campground in Noel. “They do not have a clue how powerful it is. Once they get pinned up against a log jam or a tree, even people who are physically fit with common sense don’t have a chance.”

The biggest mistake John Poynor of River Ranch in Noel says he sees floaters make is overestimating their abilities in high water.

“Things happen quickly with more current flow,” he said. “Wear a life jacket if you are unsure of the conditions or if it is beyond your ability.”


Information from: The Joplin (Mo.) Globe, https://www.joplinglobe.com

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