OUTDOORS + RECREATION

Canoes capsized in Jordan River, and life jackets saved the day

Jun 15, 2023, 1:27 PM | Updated: Jun 19, 2023, 5:19 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — When a pair of canoes holding kids and counselors capsized along the Jordan River this week, the people responsible for the kids’ safety did a lot of things right. 

The children were taking part in an activity on the Jordan River with the Tracy Aviary when their canoe capsized due to the fast-moving runoff waters.

Josh Reusser, communications director for Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation, told Dave and Dujanovic that preparation likely saved lives.

Life jackets

All seven kids, ages ranging from 10 to 12, and their two counselors were wearing life jackets.

“You want everybody in life jackets, adults included … It can be pretty dangerous when you get into swift water or cold water. The cold can especially take a toll. People can cramp up in cold water. So life jackets are really critical for any time you’re going outside to recreate around water.”

Swimming skills

Many summer camps go to county pools to make sure kids learn swimming skills. According to Reusser, summertime is a great time to get your kids into swimming lessons.

“Water competency is another barrier that we can use to protect kids, along with life jackets,” he said.

“People like to get out and enjoy the water. Lifeguarded facilities are your safest bet … if you’re going outside of that, make sure to have life jackets.”

According to the CDC, every year in the United States, there are more than 4,000 fatal drownings, including boating-related drownings.

From 2018 to 2021, the number of US deaths per 100,000 people was 1.31. Utah was above the average with 1.33 deaths per 100,000 people.

During the summer months, drownings spike throughout the nation.

Water Safety: Unintentional Drownings (CDC Data)

                                                                                                    Water Safety: Unintentional Drownings (CDC Data)

Drownings are the second leading cause of unintentional injury and death for children ages 5-14, and it’s the highest cause of death for children ages  1 through 4.

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Canoes capsized in Jordan River, and life jackets saved the day