By Conor McCue

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Severe weather could make it more dangerous for people planning to be out on the water this Memorial Day weekend. There have been several drownings this year, and last year was the deadliest ever on Colorado waters.

At Cherry Creek State Park, crowds of visitors kicked off the start of the holiday weekend along the swim beach and out on the water. Rangers credited the good weather for the increased visitation.

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“The swim beach has been really busy. The lake has been extremely busy, lots of boaters, jet skiers, kayakers, canoers,” said Luke Stucker, Senior Ranger at the park.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, state parks have seen a wave of new visitors, which Stucker said is welcome but not all good news. In 2020, Colorado saw a record 34 drownings, and there have already been four across the state this year.

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“I can’t say that anything is common with a drowning,” said Stucker. “The thing I can say is we always, always, always encourage people to wear a life jacket.”

According to Stucker, a life jacket or personal floatation device (PFD) is required by law if you are under 13 years old, and for everyone else it needs to be readily accessible. The PFD must also be in good condition and Coast Guard certified.

READ MORE: Kayaker Who Likely Drowned At Cherry Creek State Park Identified As Christopher Carmon

On top of that, Stucker said it’s important for guests know their equipment and their personal limits well.

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“If you’ve got a question, ‘know before you go’ is kind of how I put it to everyone,” Stucker said.

On Saturday, Dayne Smith and his friend Colin kayaked for the first time. Smith admitted he wasn’t as prepared as he could have been but fixing that is easy.

“With that in mind I’m definitely going to look into bettering myself and family,” Smith said.

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If you don’t have a PFD, many state parks have loaner programs, Stucker said.

Conor McCue