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On the water? Park rangers warn of life jackets and boating problems

CHATFIELD STATE PARK, Colo. (KDVR) – Thousands are preparing to enjoy Colorado’s lakes and reservoirs over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, and officials are encouraging visitors to follow safety guidelines and boating regulations.

FOX31 rode along with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife boat patrol on Wednesday as rangers prepared for the expected crowds.

“We have our boats on the water before we even open to the public,” Tyler Hall said.

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A major problem at Colorado lakes and reservoirs is boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

“Your level of intoxication, you can feel it a lot more when you’re on the water,” Hall said.

Sailboat on Chatfield Reservoir

Sailboat on Chatfield Reservoir

Boaters should be aware of the consequences of operating a vessel while impaired.

“It’s basically the same as a DUI. You can be arrested for it and it’s something we enforce,” Hall said.

Another safety concern is Colorado’s variable weather conditions. Swimmers, kayakers and boaters should always check weather reports and be prepared to take shelter.

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“The main thing I see is people on paddleboards or kayaks. They have life jackets with them, but they don’t wear them because they are having fun in the sun. When you see those dark clouds rolling over the mountains, go ahead and just put on that life jacket. All it can do is help you,” Hall said.

Teenagers aged 16 to 17 must obtain a boating license in Colorado

In Colorado, children 13 and under are required to wear a life jacket. There must be one life jacket for each person on board, as well as a throwable life ring and a fire extinguisher. Boats must be registered.

Visit the CPW website for more information about safe boating.

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