GOLDEN, Colo. (KDVR) — High temperatures are causing more snowmelt in the mountains, which means creeks across the state are high and running fast.

The City of Golden issued a red flag warning for Clear Creek, meaning the water is not safe and is closed for tubers and swimmers. Poudre Fire Authority also warned that the Poudre River is “not safe for novice recreation right now.”

Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department tells the Problem Solvers that 22 people drowned in Colorado reservoirs, rivers and creeks in 2021. In Golden, the fire department said crews conducted six rescues last summer, and 62 people needed assistance while on the creek.

After spending two years conducting water rescues in the United Kingdom, Golden Fire Department Deputy Chief Kasey Beal said nothing compares to the risk that can be presented on Colorado’s rivers and creeks.

“One of the distinct differences in Colorado is the water is extremely cold because it’s all snowmelt,” he said.

Warnings are based on a measurement of cubic feet of water per second.

“We had six water rescues, all of which occurred between 500 and 700 CFS. Over the past couple of days, the creek was trending toward over 800 cubic feet,” Beal said.

Safety tips for visiting Colorado waters

Beal added that regardless of the flag system, anyone entering the water should assess their ability to navigate the water and should always wear safety gear.

“If you don’t have a personal flotation device or you haven’t made a plan to get out of the river, you might find yourself disoriented,” Beal said.

He also warned that water can look calm and inviting on the surface, but the current below can present a risk.

“Jumping into even a few inches of moving water can sweep you off your feet,” he said.

Golden Fire and Rescue teams are equipped with top-of-the-line equipment, but Beal said the best way to remain safe is to:

  • heed signs that indicate when it’s safe to enter the water
  • avoid tubing and other activities while intoxicated
  • closely watch children, keeping them away from the edge of rushing water

For more water safety resources here.