Marta the River Otter’s top concern is river safety

Marta the River Otter, King County’s newest water safety advocate, has been busy in schools this spring reminding King County students about water safety. Like many of us, Marta is eager to get out and enjoy the warm weather.

Marta knows rivers because they are her natural habitat. She also knows how dangerous they can be.

The weather is warming up, but our area’s lakes, rivers and Puget Sound are still extremely cold. This cold water can cause even the strongest swimmers to become incapacitated from cold-water shock, causing muscles to stop working within minutes of immersion in cold water.  The best decision this time of year, especially for rivers, is to stay out.

Sometimes the best decision is to not go in the water at all. And it’s not just because of cold water temperatures – rivers shift and change every year. What was a safe place to swim last year might not be safe today.

Those concerns are partly why King County this year is reaching out to 1,800 first- and second-grade students with a special river safety presentation featuring Marta. Her main message is to teach the ABC’s of river safety.

  • Always wear a lifejacket
  • Be sure that an adult is nearby at all times
  • Cold and surprisingly fast! The river used to be snow, and it never stops flowing.
  • Do it! Learn how to swim!

King County’s river safety school education program runs through June.


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