High, fast waters from melting snow pose a danger to kids and pets

After a long, cold winter with near record snowfalls, spring is finally here. With the warmer temperatures and sunny days, however, comes the melting of all that snow and that can cause problems, notes York’s ever-watchful emergency preparedness team.

"Water levels in rivers, creeks and streams are very high and waters are rushing very quickly. These high, rushing waters are a danger for kids and pets," says Kathy Branton, manager of York’s Emergency Preparedness Program, part of Campus Services & Business Operations.

Young kids are naturally drawn to these dangerous, rushing waters, and as Branton says, "Young children and pets can be swept away surprisingly quick by these waters, even if there is less than a foot of water."

Branton advises people to keep pets on their leashes and always hold their children’s hands when near water.

Don Hailey of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority adds that river and creek banks can be deceiving. There is often ice on the banks that hasn’t melted yet, but the ice can be hard to see, especially if it’s in the undergrowth. Just because it isn’t visible, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. If someone goes too close to the water, they could easily slip on a patch of ice they didn’t even know was there and fall into the water.

The fastest flowing part of the river is the middle and under water. If someone does fall in, the water will naturally pull them to that part, says Hailey. Water is also still really cold at this time of year and hypothermia can set in within minutes.

If someone should fall into the water do not go in after them. Both people could become victims. There are several safety stations along the banks of many rivers and streams. If there is a nearby safety station, grab the circular flotation device and throw it to the person or grab the sheppard’s hook, have them grab hold of that and pull them out. If there is no safety station close by, look for a tree branch or something similar to have the person in the water grab hold of. If someone else is around, ask them to call 911 immediately. If a pet falls in the water, again, do not go in after them. Animals will usually find their own way out of the water.

The fast rushing waters of creeks, streams and rivers in the spring are a real draw for children. Keep them close and keep them safe.

For more information, visit the Emergency Preparedness Program Web site or call 416-736-5258.