Utah High Water Warning and Safety Tips
Spring is here and with the warmer temperatures comes the desire to get outdoors. With this desire comes a danger, a danger that displays mother natures true force... spring runoff.
In Utah’s higher elevations the average snowfall is 500 inches per year. As the temperatures warm this snow pack melts and makes its way down one of Utah's many creeks, streams, or rivers. Most of these waterways are located up close to many outdoor recreation areas, such as campgrounds, picnic areas, parks, and hiking trails. Unfortunately, each year we hear tragic stories about people who have drowned in one of these waterways. Tragically, some of these deaths are those of small children.
According to the Utah Department of Health one of the most common scenarios involving toddlers between the ages of 1- 4 is under-supervised children wandering off during an outdoor family gathering. Within seconds the child falls into a body of water, such as a stream, pond, or creek, and in most cases these incidents end tragically.
Swift Currents and Cold Water:
Two of the biggest factors of why Utah streams, creeks, and rivers are deadly during spring runoff are swift currents and very cold water. In fact, a full grown adult male can get knocked down by one foot of water traveling at 6.7 mph. The chances of surviving the swift current and very cold water in one of Utah’s waterways during spring runoff are very low.
The cold water will instantly take your breath away, your extremities will quickly go numb to the point of uselessness. Your body temperature will quickly drop and hypothermia will set in. Now, combine this with being tumbled over boulders, tree limbs, and being thrashed around. It’s not a good outcome no matter how you look at it.
High Water Safety Tips:
Now that we discussed why it’s not a good idea to fall into one of Utah’s creeks, streams, or rivers during spring runoff, here are a few safety tips that may help you and your family stay safe while enjoying the many spring outdoor activities.
Tip #1 Watch Your Kids
As mentioned above it only takes one foot of water traveling at 6.7 mph to knock over an adult male. Imagine what this same force would do to a child. Now being a parent myself, I know the challenges of raising kids. When my kids were young, we learned very quickly how they can get away from you even when you look away for just a second or two. When kids are in the outdoors, they are there to play, have fun, and enjoy their experience. However, this does build curiosity in a child and running water nearby is very tempting.
Designate one person particularly an adult to watch the kids. Switch off with another adult so everyone can enjoy their outdoor outing. Make sure there are clear objectives for each person responsible for watching the kids. This way you won’t run into “I thought you were watching them” situation. Those of us who have kids have all been there.
Tip #2 View from a Safe Distance
I myself completely enjoy watching and listening to the roar of a river during spring runoff. I find it beautiful and relaxing. If you enjoy photographing or taking video during runoff you can easily do it from a safe distance. Don’t risk your life trying to get the “best shot”. Remember the edges and rocks around any flowing water will be slippery and it only takes one fall.
Tip #3 Learn CPR and Basic First Aid
In an event of a worst case scenario that one of your loved ones becomes a victim while enjoying the outdoors, learning these two useful skills could be the difference between life or death. You are the first responder when in an outdoor setting. The response time to a canyon located along the Wasatch Front will be several minutes or longer. By you starting some sort life saving procedure whether it’s CPR or providing pressure to a bleeding injury will give the victim a greater chance of survival.
Tip #4 Watch Your Dogs
Your family dog is just as acceptable to the dangers of swift currents and cold water. Make sure your dog is on a leash when visiting areas with creeks, or rivers experiencing high water levels.
We hope you enjoyed this information. For more Utah Outdoor Activities please like us on Facebook. If you have an interest in bringing the outdoors into your home or cabin, take a peak at our new online store. Thank you for visiting Utah Outdoor Activities and for your support!