Rafting and water safety reminders | AspenTimes.com

Rafting and water safety reminders

Contributed report
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado

DENVER ” With many Colorado rivers running at higher than usual levels, Colorado State Parks reminds all river enthusiasts to follow some basic guidelines and safety tips before embarking on a trip.

Always wear a personal flotation device (pfd) and a helmet when on the water.

Dress for the water temperature not the air temperature; river water temperatures in Colorado range between 40-60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Know your limits. Rafters should be in adequate physical condition to get to shore if raft capsizes.

Even experienced rafters should scout out the route beforehand. Traditionally easier places may be more difficult in current water conditions.

Avoid alcohol while engaging in water recreation.

Understand that there are inherent risks involved in this form of recreation.

All commercial river outfitters in Colorado are required to obtain a river outfitter license from Colorado State Parks. For river outfitters to become licensed, they need to be in good standing, have insurance, keep records for guide training, trip records, CPR certification and first-aid training for staff.

Colorado State Parks performs river safety inspections on the river to make sure outfitters are complying with outfitter equipment and safety procedures, as well as in-office inspections of records. Rafting guides are required to go through 50 hours of on river training on the areas that they will be guiding.

So far this year, there have been nine fatalities on Colorado rivers. Four fatalities occurred on the Arkansas River during commercial rafting trips and one fatality involved a rafter on a non-commercial trip; elsewhere in the state four fatalities involved individuals on non-commercial trips. Last year there were eight total fatalities in Colorado, with five fatalities on the Arkansas River during commercial trips and three fatalities elsewhere in the state, one on a commercial trip and two on non-commercial trips.

Attracting more than 11 million visitors per year, Colorado State Parks manages 42 parks with more than 4,000 campsites, 57 cabins and yurts. The parks encompass 246,000 land and water acres.

For more information on Colorado State Parks or to purchase an annual pass online, visit http://www.parks.state.co.us.