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Be Safe Around Swift Water

By: Derek Rosenquist, Administrative and Training Captain, Estes Park Volunteer Fire Department

With the arrival of warmer weather, rivers are rising and flowing faster. Although they can be unsafe any time of year, they are especially treacherous now. Adults can easily be swept off of their feet and into the water where hidden hazards lie under the surface. Hypothermia sets in quickly with low water temperatures. Swift water poses the greatest risk to children.

Here are several basic safety precautions to take when fishing, boating or walking along rivers.

• Keep an eye on children; do not let them play near riverbanks or in the water.

• When fishing, pick a firm location to stand along the shore. When wading, be very aware of the current, its strength and objects downstream.

• When boating, wear a life vest and helmet; avoid dams, low-clearance bridges, abutments and other unnatural structures.

• If you fall into the water, try to swim away from trouble. If the stream is deep enough, float on your back with your head upstream, using your legs to push yourself away from large rocks. If the river contains logs, brush or other debris, float on your stomach with your head downstream; use your arms to pull yourself up and over dangerous objects in the water.

• Know your limits and be aware of your surroundings and the location of other members of your party.

• Call 911 for the assistance of the Estes Park Volunteer Fire Department and Dive Team.

For more information contact the Estes Park Volunteer Fire Department at 970-577-0900 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
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