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First responders stress water safety as weather warms

Posted: 6:50 PM, Apr 19, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-19 22:50:26Z

INDIANAPOLIS — The warmer weather may entice you to get out on local rivers and lakes, but first responders are warning this is absolutely not the time.

"Right now, when we're starting to get all this rain, the river is starting to go up really fast," Indianapolis Fire Department captain Jerry Richert said.

The availability of cheap watercrafts like kayaks mean there are more inexperienced boaters out on the water.

"They go out in this kind of water or water that is moving fast, and they get into a situation they are not prepared for," Richert said.

But when the water is this high, even experienced kayakers can get into trouble.

"It literally grabs the boat and just turns it over," Richert said.

The Indianapolis Fire Department said they average between five and 10 water rescues this time of year. Many occur at the low end dam near Westfield Boulevard.

"The water comes over, drops straight down and it makes a hydraulic recirculating current," Richert said. "You cannot get out of these recirculating currents. They are drowning machines and absolutely dangerous."

There have been several fatalities at the spot, and boaters are warned to stay away. Before getting out on any water, any time of the year, IFD said you need to take a class and learn how to self-rescue.

"The moving water is power. It's relentless. We can never beat the river," Richert said.

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