Each year as the weather gets warmer, people head for the cooling water of Philadelphia’s creeks.
Too often, one of those waders or swimmers, doesn’t get out of the water alive and the risks are higher after heavy rains.
“We realize kids are kids, they think their invincible – especially if they’re good swimmers – but we know differently,” said Elsie Stevens, president of the Holme Circle Civic Association in Northeast Philadelphia. “Pennypack Creek can be very scenic, it can be very tranquil, but it can be a killer also.”
Stevens pointed out that there was a drowning just days ago in Tacony Creek. She said she each summer she gets worried.
“Every time I hear a helicopter you know I wonder, ‘Is somebody in danger in the creek?'”
After two drownings last year, she thought, “there has to be something we can do. These drownings occur almost every year.”
Stevens is joining forces with the Philadelphia Fire Department to try to save lives.
Lt. Andrew Brown said Operation Stay On Shore urges people to just keep out of the water.
“Last year there were at least six drownings in Pennypack Creek, there were numerous children that drowned as well as some young adults,” Brown said. “And in Wissahickon Creek there were two people that drowned.”
Brown said a father went in to try to save his son and neither one made it out alive.
He warned that the creek bottom can suddenly drop off. He said that and the fast moving water that comes after heavy rains put even people who are only wading, in danger.
Stevens suggested Philadelphians head to city pools to cool off instead of the creeks.