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Utah first responders warn of spring water runoff hazards

Posted at 9:46 PM, Apr 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-03 23:46:16-04

Unified Fire Authority is warning people about the potential dangers of rivers and streams as snowmelt creates hazardous conditions.

The winter snow that covers Utah’s mountains is slowly melting. As it does, the runoff causes rivers to rise with frigid water.

The power and temperature of the water combine to create a dangerous combination.

“With ice-cold water temperatures, your muscles lock up and you can’t breathe,” said Patrick Costin of Unified Fire Authority. “Any time you get moving water, the rule of thumb is just stay away from it. Currents are so strong and water has so much force behind it that it doesn’t take much to knock a full-sized adult off their feet.”

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, an average of 10 people drown per day in the United States. Twenty percent of those deaths are children under 14. That is why parents and guardians are advised to be extra vigilant when recreating near swift water sources.

“I have four kids — they will disappear in two seconds,” Costin said. “Especially with water, that’s all it takes is two seconds. They get swept off their feet and swept downstream.”

UFA advises people to always wear a life jacket when in the water. Standing bodies of water like likes are a safer alternative to rivers and streams.