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Penticton Fire Department issues warning as river channel heats up

Click to play video 'Penticton Fire Department issues warning for channel floaters' Penticton Fire Department issues warning for channel floaters

Nearly 30 C weather has arrived in the Southern Okanagan, and naturally people are going to be hitting the popular Penticton River Channel.

“It’s a beautiful Friday, sun’s out, I’m with my friends here, we’re Penticton natives, so we know how to navigate these waters, we’ve been doing it our whole lives,” James Fraser, a local resident.

The local and tourist favourite cool-down spot was busy on Friday, as many took their own personal floats down the channel.

Read more: Air rescue at popular South Okanagan climbing spot

But the waterway is not without some danger at the moment. 

James Fraser says there’s a few things potential floaters should be looking out for.

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“You gotta watch out for the second bridge, they got that wall divider there. If you tie up with rope you gotta make sure you’re extra careful around the bridges,” said Fraser.

“Stay away from the side as snakes are out, it’s snake season out there.”

Read more: Traffic police in South Okanagan using disguises to help catch distracted drivers

In fact, the Penticton Fire Department is urging the public to be careful when floating in the channel.

“This is a massive body of water and although it doesn’t look (like) its moving rapidly, it’s still very powerful,” said Fire Chief Larry Watkinson.

Currently, the Penticton River Channel is flowing quite high and fast, it’s running at 75 cubic metres per second and is about three metres deep — which is higher and faster than average. 

“We have some concerns about the river,” said Watkinson 

“It’s about coming into the bridgeway abutment and making sure your tubes aren’t tied together in the event you get wrapped around the abutment and (get) tangled up.”

Read more: High lake level advisory issued for South Okanagan

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Coyote Cruises, a company who rents tubes and runs a shuttle service for the channel, echoes the fire department’s warnings.

“So the biggest thing is not to ties their tubes together — we don’t allow that, and we don’t supply rope,” said Diana Stirlang, Coyotes

Coyote Cruises opens on Saturday and of course they will have COVID-19 precautions in place.

Stirlang says all tubes will be disinfected, shuttle buses will enforce physical distancing and all high traffic areas will be wiped down.

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