Officials urging Richmonders to stay off the water this weekend

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Fire crews in Richmond executed two separate water rescues on the James River Friday. They are both prime examples of why emergency personnel are urging the public to stay away from the water this weekend.

The weather may be inviting, but with water levels as high as they currently are, authorities tell 8News accidents can happen quickly.

So for anyone with plans to spend time on the James River for Memorial Day …

“Definitely make different plans, because the river is supposed to get higher this weekend,” Mechanicsville resident Russell Seal said.

Some area residents on Friday started their holiday weekend early, enjoying walks and sunshine at Pony Pasture.

But emergency personnel are urging people to make other plans that don’t involve the James this weekend.

“The river levels continue to increase, so if you want to enjoy water sports or water this weekend, we highly recommend that you stay off of the James River,” Lt. Chris Armstrong with Richmond Fire said. “If you have a lake in your neighborhood that’s suitable for water sports, certainly go ahead.”

The fire departments in Richmond and Henrico work hand-in-hand when it comes to river safety. They say if you find yourself in the water, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself.

“If they happen to be swept into the water at all, unfortunately, one of the things that they want to do is float on their back,” Captain Taylor Goodman with Henrico Fire said. “As they’re carried down river feet first, that will help keep your head above water and make it easier to find and rescue you should something occur.”

When water levels are at 5 feet, life jackets are required. And when levels reach 9 feet, you must have a permit to be on the water.

Right now, levels are already above the 12-foot stage and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that tomorrow, water levels could peak above 14 feet.

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