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Floating turned fatal: How to avoid the dangers of mother nature when floating the river

There are a lot of hazards to be aware of, but that doesn't mean it should stop you from coming out to enjoy your surroundings. It does mean, however, that there are some safety tips you should keep in mind. (SBG).

LANE COUNTY, Ore. - With the weather warming up, and summer about a month away, a lot of people are taking the kayaks and inner tubes out on the river for the first time this year.

But after the first two water rescues of the season took place on Sunday, there are areas in the McKenzie River that officials are encouraging water-goers to avoid.

There are a lot of hazards to be aware of, but that doesn't mean it should stop you from coming out to enjoy your surroundings. It does mean, however, that there are some safety tips you should keep in mind.

An 80-degree day without a cloud in the sky on the McKenzie River can turn into disaster within minutes.

"You can avoid it. What you want to do is look ahead, you want to get further away, get out of the main current's path," said Ty Cain, a Water Rescuer.

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Cain, who is part of the Eugene/Springfield Fire and Water Rescue Team is hoping to identify some of the dangerous areas on the water to stay away from.

"We're sitting next to where this root was that's designed to just basically catch anything that's coming down into it," said Cain, while identifying parts of the river.

He says that trees fall into the river a lot during this time of year, and they act like a strainer for inner tubes passing through. So what do you do to avoid getting caught?

Cain says that when you see a large branch in your path, scoot your raft or tube towards the shallow side with a slower current. To do that, you need to have the right equipment.

Buying cheap inner tubes won't do the trick, and Cain says that the thick rubber or vinyl tubes with oars to paddle you out of a situation are what you need to avoid a fatal accident. And of course, the most important thing to have is your personal flotation device.

Before you hop on the river, make sure you know how much time your float will take. A common starting point is near Hayden's Bridge, bringing you all the way to Armitage Park in two hours.

Cain says that the two water rescues that happened on Sunday occurred after the inner tubes were popped by trees in the McKenzie River, at nearly the same time. Luckily, nobody was hurt.

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