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News Release

Water and River Safety

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Department: Sheriff
Release Date: May 27, 2014

Contact Information:

Jennifer Hillmann
Public Information Officer
Larimer County Sheriff's Office

With warmer weather and longer days now in Colorado, tens of thousands of people annually visit the water recreation areas in Larimer County during the summer.  As we saw with the tragic deaths yesterday in the Poudre River, situations can change quickly and activities near the water need to done with caution.  Due to recent heavy rains and snowmelt runoff contributing to higher than average river depths, the Larimer County Sheriff's Office, Larimer County Dive Rescue Team, Larimer County Search and Rescue Team and Larimer County Emergency Services Unit want to warn everyone to be smart and safe when recreating near the water. 

We want people to consider the following suggestions when making plans to spend time near the water this summer:

·      Tell someone where you are going, when you expect to return and where and who to call if you don’t.  If your plans change while you are traveling, put a note in your car on the driver’s side dashboard with the new plans.

·      Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear life jackets around water.  Even children who do not plan on getting into the water can often want to go near the waters edge and some riverbanks are unstable in areas due to current high flow rates. 

·      Stay away from riverbanks during times of high flowing water. The banks may have become unstable and give way underneath you.

·      Never forget the power of the river, especially when it is running high and fast from spring runoff or recent heavy rains.

·      Be aware of the limitations of yourself in the water. Even if you are a good swimmer, fast moving water and under currents can easily catch you off guard.  Additionally there are often rocks or other obstacles underneath the water that can knock you off balance even in shallow water depths. 

·      Watch your surroundings, including the weather. Be prepared for extremes in the weather, especially if more rain is predicted.  This can alter the water flow and depth in a short period of time and also contribute to hypothermia.  When your clothes are soaking wet, hypothermia is a danger even in the summer.

·      Carry a First Aid kit and know how to use it. Take a first aid course for CPR and basic medical assistance.

·      If caught in a fast flowing river, rapids or storm water, try to float feet first in a half sit position.

·      Remember: Reach or Throw, Don’t Go. If someone is caught in fast moving water, reach out to them or throw a rope to the person in the water.  Don’t go into the water yourself or you may also become in need of rescuing.

Sheriff Smith wants everyone to have a safe and enjoyable time this summer in Larimer County, but yesterday’s events remind us all that the rivers can be deadly if not respected.  If your plans include wanting to be on the river in a recreational watercraft, we urge you to use one of the many qualified local rafting companies for the best experience.  They have qualified instructors, safety equipment and trained staff in case of medical emergencies.

Additionally, if you are in your own recreational watercraft and it gets away from you, when it is safe to do so, please call our non-emergency Dispatch number at 970-416-1985 to report the watercraft.  Have the color, approximate size and the location you last saw it and direction it was traveling so that we are aware of it and can let other concerned citizens who call in and see it know that there is no one trapped underneath the craft.

For more water safety tips and information you can visit the Red Cross website at:

http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/water-safety

Background Image: Rocky Mountain National Park by Sue Burke. All rights reserved.