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Allegany County DES Touts Water Safety

June 14th, 2020 by WCBC Radio

As the weather turns warmer and Governor Larry Hogan continues to lift restrictions on social gatherings, local state parks prepare for increased visitors enjoying the cool water. The Allegany County Department of Emergency Services- Special Operations Division wants to provide citizens with a few safety tips. 
“With more people coming out and enjoying the outdoors we have seen an increase in water related calls due to people taking short weekend trips to get away,” Allegany County Special Operations Chief Derek Crippen said. “While many times the water looks calm, it is actually moving much faster under the surface. Don’t underestimate the power of the water.”
Crippen encourages locals and visitors to check water conditions before going out.
“You want to make sure rivers and streams aren’t high after rainy days prior to your excursions,” Crippen said. “Avoid areas with dams or trees that have fallen in the water. Trees become a high hazard for trapping river-goers in distress.”
If you are going to be on the water, make sure everyone has a properly sized life jacket during the activities, Crippen said. Anyone with kids, make sure a parent or guardian is watching their activities near the water at all times.
The YMCA reports that 60% of youth drowning happens within 10 feet of safety and in 88% of youth drowning the child was under some type of supervision.
Crippen stresses pre-planning and letting family or friends know your timeline of events.
“If you do go out for a float trip or kayak trip make sure someone knows your plan; the area you are putting in the water and taking out. As well as a rough timeline,” Crippen continued.  “Make sure that someone has a cell phone and keep it in a bag or waterproof container to keep it safe.”
In the event of an emergency please dial ‪911‬ and provide the communication specialist with as much information as possible. This will save valuable time for rescuers responding to your emergency.
“With technology today, a helpful piece of information is to screenshot your location from a map on your phone and send that to 911 center or to the rescue team responding your emergency,” Crippen said. “Specialized technicians and responders will be coming from different locations across the county, any information that can be relayed is helpful.”
Allegany County’s Special Operations Water Rescue Team is made up of technicians from Bowling Green and LaVale fire departments and supported by other personnel. The team responds to approximately six-eight water emergencies yearly, with the highest number of calls during warmer months.
“Go out and enjoy the many areas of our county,” Crippen said. “Know your limitations and follow all safety precautions listed for that specific area.”

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