This year Colorado has already seen a few water-related deaths -- on rivers mostly -- but Summit County Sheriff's Boat Rangers are now taking the chance to preach good safety on Lake Dillon as well as other Colorado bodies of water ahead of the major boating season.
"Last year we broke the record in Colorado for the number of water-related drownings. We are up to 42," Kevin Kelble, SCSO Boat Ranger said. "The previous one was in the high 30s and we went into the 40s and it is a trend that we are not happy with."
This year they've got a brand new rescue boat, that not only comes with tons of high-tech gadgets to help in search missions, and better control on the water, but also simply is more visible with a big red ring of memory foam around the outside of the boat.
"Basically we brought the boat into the 2023 vs being in the 1980 or 1990s," Kelble said.
Dillon Reservoir continues to be a dangerous location for unprepared people on the water. The almost-freezing temperature of the water means if people fall in while on a paddleboard or a boat, they only have a few minutes before cold shock takes over and they're sapped of any energy they had to swim.
"Even the start of this year, right now our lake temperature is 46-48 degrees and that is on the surface," Kelble said. "You drop down 2-3 feet is it in the 40s, we have already had numerous people out here without life jackets."
That's his big push this year, as with most years. Kelble said around 90% of water-related deaths in Colorado last year could have been avoided had the victim simply been wearing a life jacket.
"Please use our loner program," Kelble said, motioning towards the rack of lifejackets near the boat ramp. "It is free, we would rather have you borrow and be safe and return it and all be happy."
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