Authorities remind public of water safety tips as summer approaches

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Arkansas River -- FOX21 News File Photo

PUEBLO, Colo. — Summer is right around the corner!

If you’re thinking of heading to the water to cool off, authorities want to remind you to take precautions and use good judgment when going out into the Arkansas River, area lakes and streams.

The Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office says the Arkansas River and area streams are flowing at or above normal due to the steady runoff from mountain snow and the wet spring. This creates dangerous situations on the water, according to authorities.

“When we have high water levels like we do right now, the river becomes a safety concern,” said Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk M. Taylor. “We ask that when you are near or on the water to use caution. Everyone should wear a personal flotation device and children should never be left unattended.”

If you plan on heading out to enjoy the water this summer, here are some safety tips to consider:

    • Let people know where you’re going and when you expect to return. Enjoy the activities with a friend or in a group.
    • Don’t attempt to float on the river on something that isn’t designed for swift/rapid waters.
    • Be aware that water temperatures can be extremely cold below the surface. Air temperatures may feel hot and the water may feel or appear warm but can be extremely cold allowing hypothermia to set it and overwhelm even the strongest of swimmers.
    • Be aware there can be slow-moving currents underneath what may look calm on the surface.
    • Know what hazards exist in the river. Slippery or uneven river bottom and underwater currents can sweep you off your feet. Debris such as trees, branches and logs can trap you under water. Be cautious of sudden drop-offs.
    • If you end up in the water, take a semi-seated position and try to float to the bank. Swimming upstream or diagonal to the water will quickly exhaust you.

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