Once the weather warms up, people typically want to get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer in Utah.

This year the urge to go to the great outdoors is going to be stronger than ever, as many people have been cooped up in their homes more than usual due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While state and national parks are opening up, it’s important to remember social distancing is still important to slow the spread. People not of the same household should avoid contact with others while recreating, and all other guidelines should be followed.

Another safety issue that comes up each spring whether there is a worldwide pandemic or not is the importance of being safe around waterways. 

Rivers, streams and lakes are popular recreation destinations, but they can be especially dangerous as water runoff hits its peak. Whether it’s a local canal, a river, a reservoir or a lake, it’s never a good idea to leave children unsupervised. A fall into the water can be fatal in a matter of moments.

One of the sad facts is that when emergency responders are called to a lake or river for someone who’s gone under — it’s for a body recovery, not a rescue.

Being safe while recreating around or near water should be common sense, but oftentimes people get too comfortable while boating, fishing or swimming in Utah’s lakes and reservoirs.

The Utah Safety Council advises parents to always have someone assigned to make sure children won’t get into a dangerous situation while near water. Also, never allow a child to swim without adult supervision.

Water safety rules also apply to rivers and streams.

The water is high, fast and cold during this time of year. People who do not have the proper training and experience could get in a life-threatening situation very easily.

Not all water safety tips are for children.

While boating or water-skiing, it’s important to wear proper equipment such as life preservers. If a boat capsizes, it can take its occupants a long time to swim back to shore or be rescued. In cold water, shock and hypothermia can set in and make it nearly impossible to stay above water without a life jacket.

Even experienced swimmers can run into problems, particularly in cool lakes and reservoirs. Wearing a life jacket will help keep one’s head above water so that they can be rescued.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry. 

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