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Mark J. Williams
Mark J. Williams
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Avoid Hidden Perils of Local Streams & Creeks

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June is national boating month. So, in keeping with that theme, I thought I would add my observations to the number of great blogs already appearing on InjuryBoard. However, in a slight deviation from the norm, I decided to add a few timely observations about water safety in general, given the continued high volume of water that flows from the mountain streams from the mountains along the Wasatch Mountains in northern Utah.

People tend to ignore the hidden perils of local creeks and streams, often miscalculating the power of the their rather calm and sometimes even shallow appearance. In Utah, it’s easy for even locals to forget that the streams and creeks flowing out of the mountains are feed by the winter accumulation of snow. That means the waters are icy cold. Add to that the very swift and heavy volume of run-off water from the snow melt due to the unseasonably cold weather and rain over the last 2 weeks. The streams hold hidden dangers for anyone, especially children who are attracted to the banks of the streams as they runs through neighborhoods in the valley below.

Two stories appeared in the Deseret News this weekend as chilling reminders of the need for safety precautions that must always be reinforced with our children, and with adults. The first story involved a parent’s worst nightmare. While playing with friends on a pipe near the Jordan River canal, a 7 year old boy fell into the fast moving stream near his home and disappeared. As of Sunday morning, he had not been found. Even though apparently not playing directly in the water, he fell into the water. Once in the water, no one, especially a child, is likely to survive in the rapid moving, frigid waters of mountain-snow-fed streams. The second story underscores those dangers. A woman in her 30s jumped into the waters of the creek running by a local park when she tried to save her dog that was swept away by the fast moving waters. After nearly 30 minutes in the creek, she somehow able to get out, much to the surprise of authorities. Because of the risk of hyperthermia and the force of the water, as well as hidden hazards of rock, fallen tree trunks and limbs, and other debris, a person in the creek has only minutes to be rescued before facing drowning or serious injury. The woman was very lucky to survive. Unfortunately, her dog has not been found.

These stories provide lessons for anyone near water. First, teach your children the dangers of open waters of any kind, especially running streams they may encounter in their neighborhoods. Do not allow them to play near those streams, since a slip or fall into the flowing waters often leads to tragic results. Second, even though you may have a close relationship with your family pet, do not risk your own life by jumping in to rescue them should they end up in the waters. Chances of surviving in the frigid waters of mountain streams are very low. Stay out of them at all costs. Their waters may be inviting, but danger lurks for the unwary.