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Officials discuss safety along Clear Creek Trail

There have already been at least 13 suspected drownings in the state this year, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

GOLDEN, Colo. — Officials with the City of Golden on Tuesday morning discussed steps taken to ensure safety along the Clear Creek Trail corridor.

The city said many new steps have been taken to improve safety on the water in Clear Creek and on the surrounding trails.

"We've had numerous rescues over the years and have learned from that," Golden Fire Chief Jerry Stricker said. "The river is predictable. It's powerful, predictable and it's relentless. It will not stop."

Stricker said one of the primary safety concerns for swimmers is the water temperature.

"This was basically snow yesterday, and it's very cold," Stricker said. "It doesn't take many minutes for you to start losing dexterity if you get in trouble."

Stricker said the bottom of the creek is covered with slippery boulders, and it can be hard to get a footing.

Stricker offered some safety recommendations including using a life jacket or personal floatation device, and wearing proper footwear to protect against the jagged boulders. 

Clear Creek has adopted a flag system to provide visitors with information on the current water conditions:

  • Green flag: Moderate flows. Open to all uses. Use regular caution.
  • Yellow flag:  Moderate to high flows. Open to all uses but considered unsafe for children under 18. Exercise heightened caution.
  • Red flag: High flow. Closed for swimming and tubing. Only experienced kayakers and other vessels should be on the creek, and users should wear protective gear and be able to rescue themselves. High caution should be used.
  • Double-red flag: Closed for all uses due to a combination of high flows and other unsafe conditions, such as low temperature or debris in the water.

The current flag status can be found on the city's website.

Golden Police Sergeant Ben Salentine reminded visitors that alcohol is prohibited along the trail and in parks unless proper authorization is obtained through a permit or pavilion rental.

"Water sports and alcohol is a bad combination for safety, and that's the root cause for a lot of the issues we've seen in the past," Salentine said. 

RELATED: Man dies after raft overturns in Poudre River

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) urges anyone enjoying water sports including boating, kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming and fishing to be cautious.

There have been at least 13 suspected drownings in Colorado this year, according to CPW. The most drownings recorded in a single year is 34 in 2020.

"It is important that boaters take into account the risks that weather can present while recreating on the water. Dangerous weather conditions that raise concerns are unpredictable strong wind gusts that can knock a paddleboarder or kayaker into the water, and cold water temperatures that exist year-round in Colorado," CPW said.

RELATED: 2 dead after separate river-related incidents

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