This past Saturday, water rescue units were dispatched for a close call in the Lehigh River near Weissport.

A raft flipped and the people riding in it were tossed out. One got caught in the swift current. Others reportedly got rides in accompanying rafts without incident.

For the woman caught in the rapids, it was a close call. The river is high and the flow is raging as a result of recent heavy rain.

But regardless of the depth or velocity of the river, there is always an element of danger.

Over just the past few years, numerous lives have been lost in the river.

Last October, a 33-year-old man drowned when police said he went swimming in the Lehigh in the vicinity of the trestle.

A woman and her 7-year-old grandson were victims of a river tragedy which occurred while swimming in it in June 2012.

There have been other drownings.

There also have been close calls where the heroic actions of firefighters, who have extensive training in water rescue, have safely rescued individuals whose kayaks or canoes overturned in the river.

It's not only the Lehigh River which has proven deadly.

Several fatalities have occurred at Beltzville State Park in recent years.

Backyard swimming pools were sites where drownings have occurred.

The warmer weather is arriving and more people will be utilizing swimming areas. Municipal pools have lifeguards. Personal pools, local rivers, and state parks generally don't.

Carelessness, stupidity and over-confidence are three reasons drownings sometimes occur.

When swimming, especially in rivers and private pools, don't be there alone.

Stay away from the rapids. They're more powerful than you realize and once they entrap you, a rescue becomes very difficult.

If rafting on the Lehigh, use a professional rafting service. It's much safer and well worth the extra money you'll pay. The rafting companies have professional guides on all their trips.

Most swimming areas open this coming weekend. Let's work together to make the summer a safe one.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com