Caution Encouraged As Heat Makes Rivers Rise
May 3, 2019, 9:30 PM | Updated: 10:23 pm
LOGAN, Utah – The spike in heat this week will make Utah rivers rise this weekend. No flooding is expected, right now. But, people need to be especially cautious near the water. First responders will be on alert as people head to waterways to check out the runoff.
“The rivers are starting to rise,” said Captain Bryan Davies, standing on the tree-lined banks of the Logan River in Logan.
Utah rivers will run high, cold, and fast for about two months. Tonight, Logan firefighters were honing their skills for water rescues. They used throw bags, and tied rescue ropes across the river. They trained on several techniques that they could use in different circumstances depending on the banks of the river.
“Techniques that all of our firefighters can use and can quickly deploy,” said Davies.
Three major rivers run through Logan, and they’ve had fatalities on each over the last decade. So, this training is critical.
“This area that we chose to train in, right now, has got homes all around,” he said.
Many people live and play near the water. Many others float and kayak the river. All of those people, especially children, are a major concern during snowmelt run-off.
Right now, the Logan River is lower than last week, because of the cool down early this week. But, it is expected to surge to 80% of flood stage in the next five days, and peak Memorial Day weekend.
The Logan Fire Department and a number of other agencies across the state keep throw bags with ropes in their rigs. When somebody is in the water, there’s no time to waste.
“We’re looking for speed,” said Captain John Cox. “We’re looking for these guys to to be able to jump out of the rigs, throw on a life jacket, run over to the water and throw something.”
Captain Cox played the part of the victim in the water tonight. He wore a dry suit to keep the cold water out, and make the training possible because the water is too fast and too cold to survive.
“It’s right off the snow pack,” said Cox. “So, it’s just above freezing. It’s pretty cold.”
Even with the suit on, he could feel the chill. For a person in the river without the suit…
“Quickly, within a matter of minutes, you wouldn’t be able to use your fingers,” he said. “Your fine motor skills would go away really quickly. Then you’d start to lose your strength.”
You would be panicky at first, he said. Then you’d stop thinking clearly, making it tough to respond to rescuers.
“You really only have a few minutes, and I don’t think you’re able to follow instructions anymore,” said Cox.
So, the firefighters refresh their training every year, for every firefighter, and urge the public to play it safe and keep a safe distance from the rivers.
“We want to just try and be prepared so that when the call comes, we can make our best attempt at helping them.