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Staying safe around deceptively dangerous rivers

WASHINGTON — Several people have already been rescued from the water in Montgomery, Howard and Carroll Counties on Sunday, including one child. And a 22- year-old was pulled from the Patapsco River in Howard County with serious injuries.

A holiday weekend and warm weather draw people to water, and there are lots of warnings near area rivers.

“You need to have a certain knowledge of river safety before you go out,” says Jeff Calhoun, of Bethesda, who was out kayaking on the Potomac River near Great Falls on Sunday. “We’re all really good, really experienced paddlers, but there’s certain things that we won’t go near.”

Calhoun says the water around the Falls is “super-powerful, and it has these features that are tough to spot.”

Fire and rescue services that perform water rescues want people to know that there are hidden dangers in rivers, where the currents can look deceptively mild. Even wading can be risky as currents under the surface can pull you under — wading is not allowed in the National Parks along the Potomac at Great Falls.

Calhoun says you need to take precautions, especially around Great Falls — “simple things like life jackets and helmets.

“But at Great Falls, that’s not necessarily going to save your life. Just avoid things that are not within your sphere of competency.”

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.


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