(Joe Ybarra Reporting)
People in the Central Valley flock to area rivers when temperatures soar, creating safety concerns for sheriff's department river patrols.
It's a good way to cool off, but can also be dangerous. There was a drowning in the San Joaquin River near Mendota on Sunday.
The Fresno County Sheriff's Department is patrolling the rivers to try to keep everyone safe.
Water levels in the river are low this year but it can still be dangerous.
Sheriff's deputies say they are rescuing several people a day.
Fresno County sheriff's deputy Jason Vinogradoff patrols the Kings River and has been on a lot of close calls because of the fast-moving current and the cold water, which is about 56 degrees. "It makes your body numb quicker, making it harder to swim."
There were plenty of people in the water over the weekend. Kids played near the shore while others ventured toward the middle of the river, where Vinogradoff says it's not a safe place to be without a life jacket. "Before they know it, the current can sweep them off their feet. It's just as easy to drown in 3 ft of water as it is in 300 ft."
While some swim, others take to tubes, but they too can be dangerous because of fast currents and debris.
Vinogradoff says he sees it all the time... the current can drag people into strainers, tree branches or debris on the side of the river. "90 percent of our rescues come from people getting caught in strainers," said Vinogradoff.
He says the best thing to do is never go in the water without a life jacket, limit alcohol consumption, and if you can't swim, think twice before jumping in.
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