2022 is officially the deadliest year on record for water recreation-related fatalities in Colorado.

In a recent press release, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) noted a series of drownings - including a double drowning on Sept. 9 at Dillon Reservoir, as well as a third drowning on Sept. 11 in the Corn Lake section of James M. Robb - Colorado River State Park was what ultimately set the new high record.

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Colorado Parks and Wildlife
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Those three drownings pushed the number of water recreation-related fatalities in Colorado to 36 over the weekend, when combined with another 34 previously confirmed recreation-related drownings.

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As of this week, 2022 is now the deadliest year ever across city, county, and state rivers, lakes, and reservoirs.

Comparing The Numbers

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

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Colorado Parks and Wildlife
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“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” Grant Brown, CPW Boating Safety and Registrations Program Manager said. 

Even as seasons continue to change and we head into the colder months of the year here in Colorado, boating opportunities are available all year round in parts of the state. As such, CPW is using this time to reshare water safety practices that everyone heading out onto Colorado waters should be following.

“As we move into fall, please stay vigilant when recreating on the water,” Brown said.

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“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."

Staying Safe Out On Colorado Waters

As per Colorado Parks and Wildlife, you should practice the following boating safety tips before heading out onto the water. Besides making sure that you have your essentials in tow (i.e; safety gear), CPW suggests you're also mindful of: 

  • Wearing your life jacket when on or near the water.
  • Checking the condition of your boat and all required boating safety gear.
  • Avoiding boating alone and telling someone where you are going and when you will return on all outings. 
  • Boating sober - alcohol use is a leading contributing factor in recreational boating deaths.
  • Wearing a life jacket while using stand-up paddleboards, which are considered vessels in Colorado and require the use of a life jacket on board at all times.
  • Weather conditions before ice fishing
  • Additional fishing tip - Waterfowl hunters should be cautious when hunting from a boat and wearing waders.

For additional safety tips and more information from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, visit CPW's official website here. 

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