Opinion

Be wise around water

I had this past week off work. It would be easy for anyone to guess this, simply because it rained all week long.

My holiday focused on getting our new (and not to mention the absolute cutest) cocker spaniel puppy, who has brought our family renewed joy since the loss of both our dogs late last year. She has also managed to keep up the tradition of the other spaniels by wreaking havoc on our well-worn and much abused living room carpet. But this can be fodder for another column.

This week, I’m on my soapbox about another issue entirely and has a much more serious message that I hope someone out there may heed.

As part of our “stay-cation,” our family took a trip to Herald Park for a viewing of the always spectacular Margaret Falls.

With the rains and melting snowpack, the falls are raging, the water crashing down so hard you can feel the vibration in your bones. You could not speak to someone right beside you for the noise. In the years I have lived here, I have never seen the water so wild. And while it was not so intense further down the trail away from the falls, the river was swollen and tumbling with the speed and intensity of a freight train.

As we walked towards the lake, I spotted them. A group of thrill-seeking young people who had doffed their shoes and were walking barefoot across a wet, and most certainly slippery log which spanned the water.

They were laughing and agile as they crossed, but my heart was in my throat.

As a mother, you picture your child doing something so obviously dangerous and feel sick in the pit of your stomach. One slip and that water would sweep a person under and against rocks, logs or debris.

My urge was to run up to them like a mother hen puffed up with indignation and scold them like four year olds. But I also realized I was just going to be seen as some old fuddy-duddy trying to wreck their fun. I didn’t want these young people trying the stunt again, just to defy some anonymous adult who was critical of their actions.

It’s not just this usually benign stream that requires caution. All rivers in our area pose a greater danger than normal as levels are high, cold and running fast. Flooded areas are also not safe places to play or poke around.

A Kelowna man lost his life Sunday morning when his canoe overturned on Shuswap Lake. Two of his buddies made it to shore, Joe Neale did not. Alcohol and a lack of safety gear were factors in his death.

When you’re in my business, you don’t forget that fatal mistakes can happen in an instant.

This time, I kept my mouth shut and kept on walking with my family. But those teens are still on my mind and I’m regretting I didn’t even utter a mild warning. So I’m doing it now. Please be safe around our rivers, streams and lakes. We don’t want to lose anyone else.

 

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