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Backcountry and Water Safety Tips for Memorial Day Weekend


CONTACT:  Tracy O’Toole, Public Affairs Officer, USFS,

Shari Ireton, Director of Communications, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, 425-388-3377, Media line: 425-249-6263

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – The Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Unit and the U.S. Forest Service are cautioning backcountry and outdoor enthusiasts to stay safe this Memorial Day weekend, which is forecast to be sunny and warm.

The warm weather means more people will be out exploring Snohomish County’s beautiful forests and trails.  Last year, Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue responded to more than 250 incidents last year, several of which involved lost and/or injured hikers. 

Erica Keene with the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest encourages visitors “…to check conditions before heading out this weekend.  Many roads and trails remain snow covered; some areas, including Big 4, have had recent avalanche activity.” Avalanche conditions are updated daily at; however, visitors should be aware that conditions can change hourly in concert with the weather.

Even if you are heading out for a short day hike, Search and Rescue personnel and Forest Service Rangers recommend you plan for your trip and carry the 10 essentials with you.

Search and Rescue also warns of the dangers of enjoying our county’s lakes, rivers and shorelines this weekend.

“Even though the forecast is for temperatures in the 80’s, we want to remind folks that most of our lakes and rivers are still in the 40’s,” said Search and Rescue Sgt. Danny Wikstrom. “It only takes a few minutes for even experienced swimmers to be affected by cold water and/or unpredictable currents, quickly finding themselves in a life-threatening situation.”

Sgt. Wikstrom offered these five cold water safety tips:

  1. Dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature.
  2. Always wear a life jacket.
  3. Know your limits.
  4. Check the weather and marine forecasts before you go.
  5. Plan for changing conditions.