State warns of possible unsafe water conditions

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is cautioning residents and visitors about possible unsafe water conditions in Connecticut’s rivers and streams due to recent heavy rains throughout the state.

Many rivers and streams in Connecticut are experiencing higher than normal water levels and faster than normal currents, so anyone near the water — or planning to go into the water — needs to be aware of the conditions and use caution.

This includes swimmers, tubers, rafters, canoeists, kayakers, boaters and fishermen.

Waters are high and swift

“This weekend’s weather forecast is for beautiful weather and we encourage everyone to get out and safely enjoy Connecticut’s outdoors,” said DEEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen. “Unfortunately, we have had incidents in recent days where people have been tubing or rafting on a fast-moving river and have gone missing.

“The state has experienced heavy rains in recent days, which mean that our rivers and streams are high and running fast, so everyone near the water needs to be extra careful,” Whalen said.

Canoeists, kayakers and boaters

Canoeists and kayakers should scout all waterways before attempting to run the swollen rivers or streams.  Waterways may have dramatically changed since the last time they were traveled due to high water, strong currents, and moved debris.

Debris in swift moving water may catch a boat and force it and its passengers under the water, causing serious injuries or drowning. Boaters on larger bodies of water, and especially on rivers, should also keep a sharp eye out — debris may lay just under the surface of the water and can be difficult to spot in the muddied waters.

Tubing and rafting safety tips

— DEEP strongly recommends that everyone wear a life jacket. Connecticut law requires children under age 13 wear a properly fitting U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket at all times unless below deck or in an enclosed cabin.

— Avoid consuming alcohol while engaging in water-related outdoor activities.

— Know how to swim if entering the water.

— Know the condition of the water and know your abilities. If there is any doubt about the water conditions, do not go.

— Wear water shoes, especially if the water body is known to be rocky.

— Never raft alone and always let someone know where you are going to and where and when you plan to return.

— Check the weather forecast for your area and for areas upstream before departing for your trip.

Basic water safety tips

— Learn to swim. The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim.

— Never swim alone. Always enter the water accompanied by a companion.

— Supervise children at all times, even at areas with lifeguards.

— Select an area that has good water quality and safe natural conditions.