High water levels on North Platte River pose danger

Published: Jun. 13, 2019 at 3:41 PM CDT
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The Wyoming Game and Fish Department advises people to use extreme caution when recreating on the North Platte River throughout the Platte Valley.

“River conditions are dangerous right now and people should have high skill levels to float the river at this time,” said Saratoga Game Warden Biff Burton. “You can’t relax; you have to pay attention because the speed of the water can take you into trouble faster than you can recognize it. The water is high, fast and cold, and this is not a good time for inexperienced people to attempt to float the river, no matter what type of watercraft you use. We haven’t seen flows like this for a few years. Be sure you have experience with fast water before you attempt to float at this time,” he said.

Cold water temperature also poses a danger.

Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce it, causing the core body temperature to fall.

Hypothermia can occur at temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit if a person becomes chilled from submersion in cold water. Other safety tips to remember:

• Listen to local radio or television stations for flooding information, as well as the National Weather Service and NOAA weather radio for current weather warnings and alerts.

• Be prepared for sudden changing conditions.

• Remember that wind and water are a dangerous mix. Wind can topple rubber rafts or float tubes and can cause dangerous waves.

• Set a float plan to let people know where you will put in, where you will take out and a timeline so rescuers know where to look for you if there is a problem.

• Invest in a high-quality personal flotation device, which saves lives when worn properly.

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