DENVER (CBS4) – With a heat wave moving into Colorado, it may be tempting to jump into a river or waterway to cool off, but that could land you in trouble.

“There’s just a lot of dangerous conditions with the extra water,” Lt. Chris Rhoads with West Metro Fire Rescue said. “The water is going to be running higher than it normally does and it is more dangerous than it has been in the spring.”

chris rhoads Safety Concerns Surround Colorado Rivers And Waterways

CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann interviews Lt. Chris Rhoads. (credit: CBS)

Colorado’s rivers and waterways are running extremely high right now due to all the snowmelt in the high country. There are tubing bans and restrictions in place in many areas, including in Boulder and Jefferson County.

“This is our peak time for water danger in the state of Colorado,” Rhoads said.

Fire and rescue crews are preparing for a busy week with the increasing temperatures ahead. With more people expected to recreate near or on water, it will likely increase the number of calls for fire and dive teams, according to Rhoads.

On Sunday, two teenagers were rescued from the fast-moving Poudre River. Neither was wearing a life vest and one died after being airlifted to a hospital.

“Wearing a personal flotation device or a life jacket is absolutely critical,” said Mike Worcester, a swift water rescue instructor with West Metro Fire Rescue.

mike worcester Safety Concerns Surround Colorado Rivers And Waterways

Mike Worcester (credit: CBS)

West Metro Fire Rescue is part of the Metro Area Dive Team which recently spent time training on Clear Creek in the dangerous conditions. Worcester said even getting in the water to swim is a dangerous process, so they’re warning others the best way to stay safe is to stay out. If you see someone swept away in the strong currents, don’t go in after them. Instead, call 911 for help.

“A kid goes into the water, the parent goes in after them and then a bystander goes in after the parent,” Worcester said. “That is just adding to the problem.”

  1. Step 1. Know what you’re doing this isn’t a good time to take up white water with no experience. Step 2. Get and wear a proper white water PFD. Step 3. Get and wear a proper white water helmet like WRSI or Sweet Protection etc.

    Actually there are a lot more steps but those are a good start. If you don’t fully understand what you’re getting in to don’t try it.

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