Firefighters Respond To Growing Number Of River-Related Accident - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Firefighters Respond To Growing Number Of River-Related Accidents

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As more people head to the river to escape the heat, Missoula fire officials said they are seeing a growing number of incidents on the river.

When it comes to the summer in Montana, many people have found their go-to spot when looking for an easy way to cool down.

"It was all nice and cold and all you had to do was relax and just let the current take you along," said river-goer Sam Moran.

Her sister, Jocelyn Moran said, "It's actually a really nice escape from the heat and everything and really relaxing."

As more people head to the river, firefighters are on alert.

"More often than not people retreat to the water, and stay cool, and that's where we're finding the emergencies are happening," said Missoula Rural Fire District Captain Blaine Cowan.

Firefighters said while it's easy to grab a few tubes and hit the river, they say you're safety always comes first.

"The thing people need to keep in mind the most is you can't control the water, it's cold even though the temp out side may be 100 degrees," Cowan said.

He said in the last few days fire crews have responded to a growing number of river-related accidents.

"The most common theme is when people rafting and they get hung up on something, like a tree and get stuck," Cowan said.

He said many of these incidents involve people who can't swim, or have been drinking on the river. He added it's a reminder that it's important to be aware of you're surroundings even in the most relaxing spots.

"Being on the river is really no different then driving on a two-lane fast highway in Montana," Cowan said. "You have to be actually aware of what's in front of you."

Fire officials said about one person drowns every year. They said many people on boats often have life jackets with them, but don't wear them.

"If they don't have life-jacket on, and you get thrown into the river in a matter of seconds that could be it," Cowan said.

Fire officials said some good judgement, and knowledge of your limits can keep you safe and cool this summer.

Firefighters said they have not responded to very many calls involving heat-related illnesses in the last few days, because so many people head to the river to keep cool.

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