Drownings are Increasing in Colorado

Lending Life Jacket Station

DENVER – Three recent drownings pushed the number of water recreation-related fatalities in Colorado to 36, including 34 confirmed recreation-related drownings, making 2022 the deadliest year ever across city, county and state rivers, lakes and reservoirs.

The record was set after a double drowning Sept. 9 at Dillon Reservoir and a third drowning Sept. 11 in the Corn Lake section of James M. Robb – Colorado River State Park.

The previous record for water fatalities and drownings was set in 2020 when Colorado experienced 34 drownings. CPW records show 24 fatalities in 2019, 34 in 2020, and 22 in 2021.

“Some common themes we saw in some of the drownings this year was the use of alcohol and people swimming from shore, on innertubes, or paddling” said CPW Boating Safety and Registrations Program Manager Grant Brown.

While many mountain reservoirs close for the winter, boating opportunities continue year-round in warmer areas. CPW doesn’t want people boating or fishing from shore to relax or forget their water safety practices.

“As we move into fall, please stay vigilant when recreating on the water,” Brown said. “Protect yourself from the dangers of cold water immersion and shock by wearing a life jacket and being aware of weather conditions, and water temperatures where you plan to recreate. Boat sober, enjoy the water, but always do so with a life jacket on – they save lives.”

CPW advises the following boating safety tips before heading out onto the water. Before going onto the water make sure you are carrying essential safety gear:

  • Wear your life jacket when on or near the water.
  • Check the condition of your boat and all required boating safety gear.
  • Avoid boating alone and tell someone where you are going and when you will return.
  • Boat sober. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boating deaths.
  • Stand-up paddleboards are considered vessels in Colorado and require a life jacket on board at all times.
  • Be knowledgeable of ice conditions before ice fishing.
  • Waterfowl hunters should be especially careful when hunting from a boat and wearing waders.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife urges you to take water safety seriously. You are not the only one at risk. Many drownings occur with friends and family nearby and unable to help; think about them and wear your lifejacket.

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