Go Play: Top 5 ways to stay safe while floating the Colorado River | PostIndependent.com

Go Play: Top 5 ways to stay safe while floating the Colorado River

Compiled by Caitlin Row
Rafters prepare to hit the Colorado River by boat, safety being their primary concern before heading off into the water.
Caitlin Row / crow@gjfreepress.com | Free Press

A wet spring along with torrential rain over Memorial Day weekend left Mesa County’s stretch of the Colorado River bursting at the seams.

The recent holiday weekend also marked the start of float season throughout the Grand Valley, and likely the first life lost.

Locally, a man was tubing on Memorial Day without a life jacket, got into trouble, and disappeared into the river, Grand Junction Fire Department’s Shawn Montgomery confirmed. As of Tuesday, May 27, his body had not been located yet.

“Everyone is revved up and prepped because we do anticipate run-off issues with our river system” this year, Montgomery said of rescue personnel. “We are prepared.”

Keeping that in mind, Montgomery assisted the GJ Free Press in creating a list of safety tips for locals and visitors taking to the river this summer. While many folks are expected to flock to the water for fun in the sun, it’s important to keep safety at the forefront no matter what.


1: Wear a coast-guard approved life jacket/vest.

Don’t unzip it; wear it properly. A $5 tube from Walmart is not an approved flotation device.

2: Know the current water levels and speed of the river; go with someone who’s experienced on our river systems.

Please head to the United States Geological Survey website for water reports — http://waterdata.usgs.gov/co/nwis/rt.

3: Make sure someone knows where you put in your water craft, your expected time on the river and where you’re coming out.

Have a communication device like a cell phone should you get into trouble. Call 911 if you find yourself in danger.

4: Familiarize yourself with potential hazards on the river, including eddies, strainers, and other dangerous conditions that may be present.

Conditions can change daily, or even hourly, as the case may be. Have an exit strategy should you get into trouble; know your surroundings and landmarks for better communication with friends and family.

5: Stay hydrated and wear sunscreen; plus limit alcohol consumption as it can not only dehydrate you, but it can inhibit your response time if you should find yourself in an emergency.

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