Firefighters urge caution around high water |

Firefighters urge caution around high water

— As the snow melts and the Yampa River begins to swell, Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue is reminding people to be careful around high water.

On Tuesday morning, firefighters met with two first grade classes from Strawberry Park Elementary School to talk about the dangers of high water.

"One of the big topics we talked to the kids about today was safety around water," said firefighter and public education coordinator Troy Kuhl.

Kuhl said they told the students that the most important things was just stay away from the fast-moving rivers and creeks this time of year.

"Stay a safe distance away until the runoff is done," Kuhl said.

There have been several instances in recent years of adults and children falling into area creeks and the Yampa.

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"We don't see a lot of the calls, but when we do, they're bad," Kuhl said.

Kuhl suggested parents keep a close eye on their children this time of year, whether they are on a walk or just live near a creek or river. Kuhl said he talks to his own kids a lot about the dangers of high water.

"Kids are really curious, and it doesn't take much for them to fall in," Kuhl said.

The firefighters taught the kids about hypothermia and how quickly it can set in if they find themselves in near-freezing water.

If someone does fall in, Kuhl said it is not advised to go in after them. Rescuing two people is a lot more difficult, he said.

If you do find yourself in a dangerous high-water situation, Kuhl said to get out as soon as possible.

"If you're the person who falls in, you want to swim to shore as hard as you can," Kuhl said. "Swim with the current, but swim toward shore."

Kuhl said it also is important to call 911 as soon as possible.

In addition to the Routt County Search and Rescue volunteers, Steamboat Fire Rescue has firefighters that are trained in swift water and ice rescue.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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