Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Make Water Safety a Top Priority This Weekend

Mat-Su | Stefan Hinman | Friday, May 26, 2023

The Matanuska Susitna Borough Department of Emergency Services (DES) reminds all residents and visitors over Memorial Day weekend to exercise safe water and boating practices during outdoor activities. The ice is gone from most of our waterways, and as warm weather arrives, the public is anxious to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Whether it is swimming, kayaking, canoeing, rafting, boating or other related activities, it is important to be prepared and to recreate safely.

There are steps the public can take to engage in these activities safely and reduce the risk of accidents or injuries. Your local borough fire departments, EMS and the Water Rescue Team is ready to aid as necessary, but accident prevention is crucial for a safe and enjoyable outing. Please incorporate the following guidelines while being active in outdoor areas of the Mat-Su Borough:

Always wear a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) regardless of your ability to swim.

These protect you if you are unexpectedly thrown into the water. Water temperatures are typically below 45 °F and are always classified as "cold". These low water temperatures quickly drain even the best swimmers strength and endurance.

• Be extra cautious in moving and turbulent water.

Local silty rivers make it difficult to see obstructions and other hazards in the water. Be particularly cautious near obstructions such as logs and trees that are either just above or just below the water surface. These create a hazard and may flip a canoe, kayak, raft, or damage a larger boat.

 • If someone falls into the water use something to reach or throw to them-do not enter the water yourself. Remember, "Reach and throw-don't go!"

There are numerous devices available to carry while you are on the water to aid in rescue.

Always closely supervise and monitor children near the water.

Children should be in an approp1iately sized PFD and never left unattended.

Recreate sober to reduce the risk of accidents.
Make sure you have all the Coast Guard required safety equipment on board your boat.

 Depending on vessel size, here are some items to include: A lifejacket for

each passenger, a throwable floatation aid, signaling equipment, first aid kit, and a

communications device (cellphone or other satellite based device) is strongly


Never go alone, always take someone with you if you are out on the water.

Inform a friend or relative of your "float plan" and when you are expected to return.

Check the weather and expected water/stream conditions in advance.

Be familiar with the area that you are in as water conditions can change day to day.

Never overload your boat! Plan ahead in case you tip over or become stranded.
 Avoid tidal flats and muddy areas as it is possible to become stuck.
 If you chose to swim in our waterways NEVER swim alone! Stay away from turbulent areas and moving water.

Always enter slowly and never dive in. A person can go under water in a murky lake or be swept away in river currents making them hard to find. Swimming in natural bodies of water require more knowledge and skills than in a swimming pool.

• Call 911 in case of an emergency.

Please recreate safely in the Mat-Su Borough! Additional infonnation is available from the Alaska Office of Boating Safety, including an "Alaska Boater's Handbook" which contains a lot of valuable information. Thank you.