Richmond Fire reminds community of water safety ahead of warm weather days

Published: Apr. 24, 2022 at 6:43 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As more people try to cool off during this week’s summer-like heat, the Richmond Fire Department says it’s prepared to take on more calls for people who underestimate the mighty James River.

“It’s as hot as a microwave,” Brent Power said as he was cooling off at the waterfront near Brown’s Island on Sunday.

And he wasn’t the only one trying to stay cool, Lauren Puchalski, was sweating Sunday afternoon not just from the heat but from tossing a tennis ball to her four-legged friend into the river.

“Because it’s so hot I have to take her to the river because she’s obsessed with the river,” Puchalski said. “But it’s also a little too hot for normal fetch so just exercising the pup.”

While many are feeling uncomfortable in the heat, for boaters and kayakers it’s just another perfect day.

“Yeah, pretty much water’s high, higher than normal for this time of year,” Andy Blake, who was heading out on the James for a second time this weekend, said.

With the water level at 5.8 feet on Sunday, Richmond Fire says it’s something everyone should be looking at before heading out.

“By the end of the day if the river comes up, you could get stranded on a rock or you can’t get back to where you went,” Capt. Michael Oprandi, with Richmond Fire, said.

Oprandi has been working with the department’s water rescue team for years and says it’s a preparation many don’t make along with not wearing a life jacket.

“The thing for the public to be aware of is five feet and above we recommend and require that if you’re in the river you’re wearing a PFD,” Oprandi said.

If you need to be rescued and you’re without a personal flotation device you could be given a ticket.

Another problem this time of year can bring brush fires near log jams.

Oprandi and his team responded to one just last week.

“Open-air fires are something that we discourage and that is not permitted out on the island,” Oprandi said. “So we just ask that folks restrain from having campfires because it can cause some issues.”

Richmond Fire says some more preparations to take ahead of this warm weather are staying hydrated, wearing sunscreen and bringing a cell phone with you if you’re headed out on the water.

Copyright 2022 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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