Officials warn of outdoor dangers as temperatures heat up in Valley

Kate Nemarich Image
Saturday, April 15, 2023
Officials warn of outdoor hazards as temperatures heat up in Valley
From river closures to hazards in the hills, officials are warning people of potential dangers as the weather gets warmer in the Valley.

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- From river closures to hazards in the hills, officials are warning people of potential dangers as the weather gets warmer in the Valley.

Several counties, including Merced and Fresno, have shut down public access to rivers due to safety concerns following recent storms.

It's not just the water posing a threat, floods have also impacted the landscape and created new hazards.

High water levels mask underwater hazards and currents are swifter than the surface lets on.

The Kings and San Joaquin Rivers are closed in Fresno County, but some people are either unaware or ignoring the closure.

"It's tempting, it's getting warm, folks are wanting to get out there in the water, but it is closed for a reason it is incredibly dangerous. This water is moving so fast," said Fresno Fire Battalion Chief Brian Price.

Price says while the water may appear to be safe, there could be danger lurking beneath the surface you're not aware of.

"There's so much infrastructure that is currently below waters, you may not even realize that you think you're swimming in a great area, but you're actually swimming into a fence that's now submerged," Price explained.

The San Joaquin River is also closed in Merced County, along with the Merced River.

Ignoring those warnings could end with a citation, which Merced County Sheriff Vernon Warnke says will be costly.

"The Huey is probably 3,000 an hour to keep that in the air and that's not including salaries, that's not including the equipment, so just that," said Warnke.

You can still enjoy many of the parks and even fishing, just don't wade on in.

Out of the waters and into the foothills area of Sequoia National Park, which reopened Friday, are an abundance of wildflowers and lower-elevation trails.

Hikers on the trails need to look out for rattlesnakes.

"People are enjoying the beautiful weather like we have today, at the same time, the snakes are coming out of hibernation, and are more active out on the trails," said Dr. Rais Vohra.

Vohra says April and May are when California Poison Control gets the most calls.

He says if you go out wear good hiking shoes and long pants to give yourself an added layer of protection.

You could also use a walking stick for self-defense and always be sure to have your cellphone in case of emergency.

"Call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital if you get bitten by a snake so you could get the anti-venom right away. Really, nothing else works out in the field in terms of getting people better and really preventing the bad outcomes," explained Vohra.

Also, if you do go out hiking, you're asked to follow all traffic signs.

Be aware that the winter storms could have damaged trails and changed the landscape.

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