Marta the River Otter, King County’s newest water safety advocate, is back in schools this spring reminding King County students about water safety. Last week, she visited second graders from Hazelwood Elementary in New Castle.
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 2,000 grade school 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 Parks’ river safety school education program runs through June.
One of Marta’s favorite things to do is showing people how to wear a lifejacket and sure that they fit. We caught up with her and made a little video of her demonstration on the right way to wear a lifejacket.