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Summer water safety; tragedy can be avoided

U.S. Air Force graphic by David Perry

U.S. Air Force graphic by David Perry

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah --

Summertime is heading our way, and with the warm weather, more adventures abound. Whether you are into boating, swimming, kayaking, or paddle boarding, there will be water hazards. 

The Air Force Safety Center reports drownings happen nearly every year in lakes, rivers, oceans, pools and even small streams.

We cannot afford to lose good Airmen or their family members to any mishap that could easily be prevented.

Tragic water accidents can happen very quickly, and unexpectedly.

If you read or watch the news, you may have seen the story of how two brothers drowned in Utah Lake, notorious for being dangerous, with treacherous no-notice wind storms. Both of them happened to be wearing life jackets.

Two young ladies also died at the same lake in May of 2020. 

It’s important to know the weather before you go and always anticipate the unexpected. 

Cold water creates a shock to your body causing muscles to spasm and cramps. With many of our lakes and streams getting their water from mountain snowpack, water temperatures can contribute to fatalities on an otherwise warm day.

A lesser-known, but dangerous Utah hazard is driving across flash-flood waterways. Southern Utah is notorious for flash-flooding, which impacts many of the roads. 

You may think that six inches of water is passable in your vehicle, when realistically the force generated by that water can sweep you away.

The number one rule when you encounter any water crossing the road is to turn around. Do not underestimate the depth of the water and the strength of the current. 

Finally, when participating in sporting activities that involve water, always ensure that you have the skill level for what you are about to do.

Do not involve alcohol in these types of activities, as it will impair your judgement and your stability and if you are pulled over in a boat at the marina or out in the water you can be cited for DUI.

The 75th Safety office encourages getting out to enjoy what you love to do, following the proper precautions and remaining level-headed. Please keep these safety facts in the back of your mind and conduct a self-risk assessment of your activity.