An 80 year-old man drowned in the Ogden River Monday, bringing to the forefront the dangers of fast and high water in Northern Utah streams and rivers. At the time of his drowning, investigators were trying to determine how the man got in the water.
It seems to be a reoccurring tragedy in the intermountain region.
Brian McInerney, a hydrologist for the National Weather Service, said people need to be vigilant this time of year and be careful around moving water.
“From now until mid-June is the most dangerous time of the year for moving water,” he said. “And we should see some damaging run off this year all across the state.”
“The biggest issue with above average run off on rivers and streams is safety,” McInerney said. “We are going to have some swift water for the next little while.”
There will be a lot of water in the middle of the valley for quite a while, he said.
“The water is not only moving fast, it’s about 30 degrees,” he said. “We lose people this time of year to both drowning and hypothermia.”
He warned people in Cache County to monitor their children and pets once it gets warm and sunny.
“Little kids can be mesmerized by moving water and can be swept away so easy,” he said. “Owners of pets should be careful, too. Often, pets will get into the water and owners jump to save them and drown, and the pet gets out on their own.”
Katie McMinn, from the Utah Department of Health, said the most frequent occurrences they see during June, July, and August are people at family reunions, and other gatherings.
She said for any large event near water, there should be a designated water monitor. “People assume that everyone is okay, but we are seeing more drownings in open bodies of water like rivers, streams and lakes.”
McMinn said 33 percent of all drowning deaths in the state are kids from 0 to 18 years old.
She recommended people check the Department of Health’s suggestions for people around water.
Water is dangerous at any depth, and it can take just seconds for a child to drown. Some of the things you can do to make sure that your child stays safe are:
- Designate an adult to be the ‘water watcher’ during group gatherings.
- Everyone should wear a life jacket while boating and in open bodies of water.
- Enclose pools and hot tubs with self-closing and locking gates/fences.
- Never leave an infant or young child alone in the bathtub.
- When not in use, drain kiddie pools and buckets.
- Teach children to always swim with an adult.
- Learn CPR.
- If you are having a hard time locating your child, check areas where they might gain access to water first.
For more information on water safety, visit https://health.utah.gov/vipp/kids/water-safety/index.html.