Floating the Deschutes Safety Tips

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Floating the Deschutes Safety Tips
 As the weather begins to warm, the allure of the water becomes irresistible! Every year thousands of Bendites and visitors enjoy a nice float down the Deschutes River through the heart of Bend. This is a fun and relaxing way to cool off and see the town. But this can also be a very dangerous float if you are not aware of the dangers and safety measures in place to protect you. The Deschutes River has calm waters suitable for floating, but it also has points of danger.
Floating the Deschutes
© 2014 LAY IT OUT INC 

There are over 3,600 drowning’s in the United States each year. In fact, drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related death for children aged 1 to 9 years and is one of the top ten causes of accidental death for both children and adults! Drowning’s happen in a matter of seconds. Contrary to what many people believe, drowning is a quick and silent killer. Within just 4 to 6 minutes, a submerged person in the water can die or sustain permanent brain damage

Click here to download a PDF version of this information.

Click here to download the Bend Parks and Recreation District's Deschutes River Floating Brochure. This includes a map of the danger areas and where to put in and take out.

Specific safety tips to floating the Deschutes River through Bend:
  • There is a spillway halfway down the floating route that you must get out and portage around. Bend Parks and Rec District are working on a fix to this but that won’t be done for a while. 
  • Follow ALL signs and warnings on the river that indicates where to exit the river to get around the spillway. Once you get past the Amphitheater, get to the LEFT side of the river as you face downstream. The take out is only feet away from the spillway, if you miss the take out you will be swept up to the spillway which may cause injury or death. 
  • All children age 12 and under must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket at all times while on an open deck or cockpit on boats that are underway or when being towed. This includes canoes, kayaks and rafts.
  • Provide adult supervision - Never leave a young child alone or with other children – EVEN FOR “A MINUTE” - in the bathtub or near any body of water, including pools, ponds, rivers, or lakes. 
  • Bend City ordinance prohibits possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages on or in the Deschutes River. Never mix alcohol with swimming, diving, or boating. Alcohol impairs your judgment, balance, and coordination, and reduces your body’s ability to stay warm. 
  • Protect native plant and wildlife! Put in and take out of the river at designated boat landings and portage paths (see map).
  • Help keep our river clean. Secure your gear to avoid disposal of garbage in the river. 
  • Learn to swim! But keep in mind that lessons don’t make you “drown-proof”. Even experienced swimmers can drown. 
  • Know the water – water may be colder, deeper, and the current swifter than you realize. Very cold water can quickly overwhelm even the strongest swimmer. Also know what lies downstream, although the water may be calm where you are, conditions can change rapidly. 
  • Know your limits – even the best swimmers can misjudge their skills. Be prepared by wearing a life jacket at all times in the water. 

For more information on water safety, contact your local American Red Cross chapter, visit the American Red Cross website or contact your local fire agency. Residents of Bend may contact Bend Fire & Rescue at 541-322-6309. 

More information about the Deschutes River Floating experience, where to rent equipment and shuttles to get you from the take out back to the start, please visit the Bend Parks and Recreation District website.

(Information provided in part courtesy of the American Red Cross
and Bend Parks and Recreation District © 2014)