Bakersfield Fire Department Chief Douglas Greener issued a second alert Tuesday asking people to stay out of the Kern River.

This is a record-setting year for rescues, Greener wrote in a news release Tuesday.

He noted the majority of BFD's 30-plus swift and still water rescues this year have involved the Kern River, and the season is still early, with sustained heat waves.

The fire department has produced a Kern River Public Safety Announcement and said it plans to deploy Swift Water Rescue Patrols on targeted warm days when there might be higher activity around the river.

"This will not make entering the river less dangerous," Greener wrote in the release, "and Fire Department presence should be construed as a clear and tacit warning to not enter the river."

BFD said it is concerned about the safety of local residents, out-of-area visitors, firefighters and volunteer rescuers as the Kern River is flowing at more than 3,300 cubic feet per second — enough force to keep kayaks, inflatables, tubes and swimmers under water indefinitely.

"The sections of the Kern River flowing through metro Bakersfield may look calm and inviting," the chief wrote, "but the force is shockingly, unexpectedly powerful and can overcome the strongest swimmers."

The Kern River death toll is about 290 people since 1968. There have been at least 11 new, confirmed deaths this year and three who are still missing this year, the release said.

The BFD released the following as its second precautionary alert:

WARNING: DO NOT ENTER THE KERN RIVER

  • Do not enter the river unless it's with a trained river guide.
  • Do not enter the river without a personal flotation device.
  • Do not enter the river under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Do not enter the river to attempt rescue; call 911.
  • Do not enter local canals or water conveyances.
  • Do not enter local lakes without designated swimming.
  • Do not swim in public areas without lifeguards.
  • Do not enter the Kern River.

It ends with this warning: STAY OUT, STAY ALIVE! STAY DRY, DON'T DIE!

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