It floats — you don’t

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

Life vest ordinance appears to be working

The ordinance passed just last month requiring personal flotation devices (PFDs — a.k.a life jackets) on major King County rivers appears to be working. The Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit estimates about two-thirds of all persons on the rivers are wearing life jackets. This is up "significantly" from prior years, according to deputies who regularly patrol the rivers. Since the ordinance became effective on July 1, sheriff’s deputies have issued over 100 written warnings, but no $86 infractions.

"This tells me the program is working," said Sheriff Sue Rahr. "Since we haven’t found any repeat offenders, the education process seems to be sinking in. And that’s our goal — to educate the public about the danger of the rivers and get voluntary compliance."

Warnings have been issued to floaters using inner tubes, small boats, inflatable rafts, a large pool toy and a "white and blue inflatable chair."

The ordinance only applies to unincorporated areas, but river users who go into the river in a city, then float into unincorporated King County, are subject to the ordinance.

Anecdotally, most of the people warned are in their 20s and live in the metropolitan Seattle area, rather than rural King County.

"The majority of rivers in King County are still running fairly fast and cold. With the weather expected to be good this weekend, folks should be reminded of the life preserver requirement," said Rahr.

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