Grant County deputies are warning the public about the dangers of irrigation canals which are now filling with water around the Columbia Basin. 

Many people like to jump in canals to cool off when summer temperatures reach their peak. 

Grant County Sheriff's spokesperson Kyle Foreman says there are plenty of hazards with canals, which are generally not fenced off. 

"Anything can fall in," said Foreman. "It could be any debris. It could be a vehicle. It could be an animal. So, there's all sorts of debris below the surface that people can't see, and they could become entangled if they jump into the irrigation canal." 

The sheriff's office says people die every year in Grant County irrigation canals by misjudging the current or becoming entangled. 

Foreman says there have been several deaths in the past couple of years. 

“The one that comes to mind was a student from Ephrata who was scheduled to graduate the following day,” Foreman said. “He and his friends went to an irrigation canal, and he got swept up by the currents and then entangled in some debris below the surface, and he passed away.” 

Another death occurred last summer when deputies believed an elderly man was walking along the canal and somehow fell into the canal and lost his life. 

The sheriff’s office is asking people to stay out of irrigation canals as first responders won’t be able to save people when they get caught underwater.  

Foreman said, “Play it safe by staying out of irrigation canals.” 

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