There were five separate water rescues on the Kalamazoo River over the three day Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Emmett Township Public Safety Officers conducted five rescues on the Kalamazoo River over the three-day Memorial Day holiday weekend, according to the Battle Creek Enquirer. Emmett Township Police say it appears high, swift-moving water currents along with a lack of experience were factors in each instance.

The first rescue occurred on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. as two kayakers became wedged against a tree near the 14000 block of Nine Mile Road. The second incident, also on Saturday, occurred at 7:15 p.m. after several people on a raft into the Kalamazoo River near Raymond Road and Columbia Avenue.

The third incident happened on Sunday at 4:47 p.m. when six people fell out of kayaks, again near Raymond Road and Columbia Avenue. By 3:33 Monday a man fell out of his kayak into the Kalamazoo River and was rescued while hanging onto a tree near River Road. The fifth and final rescue happened at 4:25 p.m. after two kayakers hit a tree, going into the water near Historic Bridge Park.

In at least some of the cases, life jackets were not worn, including children.

Some River Safety Guidelines from Great Lakes Paddling:

  • Check the Weather. Weather on the Great Lakes can change quickly. High winds and accompanying waves can easily swamp small watercraft. Before heading out, be sure to check local marine weather conditions, such as those available with the National Weather Service.
  • Buddy Up. Paddling alone is unwise. Even the most experienced paddler can run into trouble. Having a buddy along will increase safety.
  • Have a plan. Make a plan and give it to someone who is staying onshore. Be sure to include the names of the people in your party, time and location of departure, anticipated route, and time you expect to get back. Don’t forget to check-in once back so people know you have arrived home safely.
  • Safety Gear is a Must! Always wear a properly fitting U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (life preserver). Wear protective footwear and clothing that can get wet. Expect to be in the water at some point on your trip. Pack personal gear in a waterproof bag, and secure it to your boat to avoid losing items if capsizing occurs. Bring at least two signaling devices, such as whistles, waterproof flashlights and cell phones in waterproof containers.
  • Know the Limits. Not all boats are created equal and not all paddlers should venture out. Ensure that your boat is suitable for paddling conditions. Good swimming skills and experience on smaller water bodies are recommended before paddling in the Great Lakes.
  • Improve Your Skills. Consider taking a paddlers' safety course. Many local outfitters and paddling groups offer classes. Look for classes to enhance your canoeing and kayaking skill level, or join a paddling club to maximize your enjoyment when on the water.
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