Water enthusiasts should always wear personal flotation devices (PFD)

Now that summer is officially here, Coloradans head to the state’s rivers, lakes and reservoirs to participate in a variety of water sports activities. Colorado Parks and Wildlife remind outdoor recreationists to be safe on the water and wear a life vest, also known as a personal floatation device PFD).

Water sports are a great way to have fun in the sun, whether you go powerboating, paddleboarding, sailboating, windsurfing, kayaking, tubing or canoeing. In order to keep water-based activities carefree and risks at a minimum, it’s important to keep basic safety practices in mind. 

The spring run-off has filled reservoirs and water is still very cold. If you fall into water that’s barely 50 degrees, hypothermia can set in quickly and be life-threatening. People recreating on Colorado’s natural waters are urged to wear PFD no matter if they are on a river, lake, pond or reservoir. 

“You should always wear a life vest, paddle with a buddy, know your limitations and scout rapids prior to floating them,” said Grant Brown, boating safety program manager with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Water drownings are not uncommon in Colorado, and park rangers and search and rescue teams have already responded to multiple drownings this season. The impact of cold water can be dangerous when people are unexpectedly thrown overboard and required to swim when in distress. Paddle craft, such as kayaks and paddleboards, are especially vulnerable when the wind picks up, which it does most every afternoon in Colorado.

CPW urges all boaters, no matter what type of craft they are using, to wear PFDs when on the water. Regulations require that the number of PFDs on a boat match the number of people on board. Children 12 years old and younger must always wear a PFD when on the water. The rules apply to all types of boats and stand-up paddleboards. 

Outdoor recreationists interested in participating in water sports can rent or loan equipment and PFD are various state parks. CPW offers a park finder toolto search Colorado state parks that offer water activities and rental services. Dogs are encouraged to wear PFD as well in case a boat unexpectedly capsizes.  

Off the water, CPW reminds all recreationists that they are required to follow the rules of Governor Jared Polis’s “safer-at-home” order while recreating. Follow safety protocol at boating inspections and when getting into the water. Maintain a distance of six feet from other people, and wear a mask around other people if water entry locations appear crowded. 

For more information on boating regulations and safety information, visit https://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/BoatingSafety.aspx.



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