As stand-up paddleboards become more and more popular, Colorado Parks and Wildlife reminds paddlers to wear personal flotation devices (PFD) when using this watercraft.

A man at Ridgway State Park nearly drowned on June 13; he was not wearing a PFD and fell off his board when the wind picked up and roiled the water. He had to be rescued by park rangers. His wife, who was wearing a life jacket, also fell off her board but was able to swim to shore.

“So many people see paddle boards as low-risk; but if you fall off your board into cold water, you can get into trouble very quickly,” said Kirstin Copeland, manager at Ridgway State Park.

If a paddleboarder falls off in a river or on a reservoir, there is no guarantee that the board will remain within reach. In rivers, the board can be pulled away by the current. In lakes a board can be pushed away quickly by the wind.

The danger is amplified on reservoirs and ponds in the afternoons in Colorado when fast-moving storms bring high winds and stir up waves. Water temperature is also a factor; even though the weather has been hot recently, water in rivers and reservoirs remain cold and will quickly impair swimming ability

According to CPW regulations, any watercraft must have the number of life jackets on board to match the number of passengers. Anyone 13 years or younger, when on the water, must wear a life jacket at all times. Every kind of craft is subject to the regulations, including paddleboards, kayaks, canoes, sailboats and sailboards.

Last year at Ridgway State Park four adults who were not wearing life jackets had to be rescued after falling from paddleboards. Two youngsters who were wearing adult-sized life jackets also had to be rescued. The ill-fitting PFDs did not support them in the water properly. Children must be fitted with properly sized PFDs.

“Anything can happen at any time on the water, so we urge people to be cautious and consider their own and their loved one’s safety while they’re enjoying the water,” Copeland said. “Please, wear your PFD.”

For more information about safe boating, go to: http://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/BoatingSafety.aspx.

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