Rafting the Poudre River is a fun Fort Collins activity, but it is also a dangerous one.

On Saturday (May 29), Poudre Fire Authority (PFA) had to rescue two kayakers, one of whom was stranded in the river. According to their Facebook post, the water was running at around 1,200 cubic feet per second.

That incident is far from this season's first rescue. On May 22, PFA rescued eight people on the river, while crews saved another two individuals earlier in the month.

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In light of these recent rescues, PFA is reminding residents to "Play It Safe on the Poudre" by practicing the following tips:

  • Wear a Life Vest
    • Make sure your Personal Flotation Device (PFD) is rated for the river.
  • Know Conditions
    • Melting snow can make the river fast, high, and cold.
  • Scout Your Route
    • Designate your put-in and take-out points, and avoid dangerous areas.
  • Float Sober
    • Do not drink on the river.
  • Show & Tell
    • Tell others about where you are going and when you will return. If plans change, leave a note on your dashboard and keep your name and number on your water vessel.
  • In the Water
    • Stay on your back and keep your feet pointed downstream. Swim to the shore before crawling or scooting out. Avoid standing or walking, as you could get trapped in the rocks.
  • Reach or Throw, Don't Go
    • If you see someone stuck in the water, offer them a rope. Do not attach the rope to yourself or enter the water, as you could put yourself in danger.
  • Call 911 ASAP
    • If you need help or see someone who does, call 911 as soon as possible and provide details about the incident location. Have a waterproof phone on hand.
  • Stay Detached
    • Avoid tying anything together, including other tubes or yourself.

PFA launched the "Play It Safe on the Poudre" initiative in 2017, after William McHarg, 64, and Maximilian Gonzalez, 18, died on the river. The organization hopes the movement will prevent further tragedies.

"The Poudre River is a community treasure. It is also powerful and unpredictable," said PFA. "Our hearts go out to the people who have lost loved ones. Please remember their stories and make smart decisions."

In non-emergency situations, residents can report abandoned water vessels by calling (970) 221-6540.

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