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Rescue crews warn Utahns to be cautious as spring runoff hits rivers and streams

Posted at 9:19 PM, Apr 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-30 08:03:25-04

BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON — As Utah’s snowpack starts to melt, the ensuing runoff creates an increased danger in area rivers, creeks and streams.

Search and Rescue crews from Unified Fire warn the cold water and fast currents create what can be a deadly combination.

“Last spring, just in the springtime season, we had six drownings,” said Captain Jay Torgersen of Unified Fire.

He hopes people listen to the warnings this year and stay safe near these dangerous bodies of water.

“In the springtime as the temperatures rise, so does the water,” Torgersen said.

Until the summer months, the water temperature won’t rise. Now, it is hovering around 40 degrees.

“With these temperatures you’re going to lose your ability within a minute or two to be able to function,” Torgersen said. “You won’t be able to swim. You’ll lose your breath.”

Once a person is stunned by the bone chilling water, they’ll encounter other hazards.

“There is rocks, trees, drops, waterfalls,” Torgersen said.

Torgersen hopes people still enjoy the beauty of the canyons, while understanding the danger of the rapidly changing conditions in the flowing bodies of water.

“The streams are very powerful, and they are running really fast right now,” Torgersen said.

If you encounter someone struggling in the water, you are advised to call 911 and stay out of the water to prevent yourself from drowning.