The large amounts of snow we have received this year are on their way out as the thaw begins, even some of the ditches in town have been cleared of snow in preparation for the onslaught of water. As welcoming as the thaw is, it does create some dangerous conditions in Russell, conditions that parents should be aware of and conditions that children are often attracted to.
The peaceful Castor River; which for most of year is no more than a trickling stream becomes a torrent of violent water for a few weeks every spring. The conditions when this occurs are extremely hazardous; fast moving water, extremely cold temperatures and ice shelves still in place. When you consider the risk assessment of a water way, these are all worse case scenarios. The water in the Castor River during the spring thaw is still at or below 0ļ degrees Celsius, being immersed in water this cold has immediate affects on the body. Disorientation, shock, cardiac arrest and immediate drowning are all possibilities when immersed in cold water. Even if a person is fortunate enough to survive the initial immersion, coordination and numbness set in extremely fast so getting yourself out is also extremely unlikely. Even the strongest individuals will fall unconscious in less than 10 minutes, for small children this would occur even faster. Needless to say the safest way to survive around cold water is to not be in it. Unfortunately a rushing river and warmer temperatures are also a magnet for children, we have been fortunate in Russell that there has not been any cold water rescues in the past few years, with the exception of the odd dog now and then, but children must be reminded of these dangers each year so that we donít have a tragedy.
In addition to the Castor River some of Russellís drainage ditches also pose the same dangers. These ditches become small fast moving rivers for a short period of time each spring and this year we can expect them to be extremely strong. The ditch along the bike path west of Concession Street is of great concern, because it is hidden along the path kids can play around it without being noticed. Even the ditches along Concession Street around the schools can become quite deep each spring. Remind your children to stay away from these ditches.
The spring run off will be over soon and we will all be able to enjoy some family time around the river. One of those great family events is the annual Poutmasters Catfish Tournament that is scheduled for May 23 to 25. This will be the ninth edition of the tournament and we can all thank the Russell Fire Departmentís own Steve Ion for this. Not only has he raised thousands of dollars for cancer research but he has created a tradition in Russell that we can only hope lasts for years to come. If you havenít participated before, be sure to make this year your first.
For more information about Russell's Poutmasters Catfishing Tournament, click on the following link: Poutmasters