Keep your kids safe around canals

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- Here in the Grand Valley we have over 200 miles of canals, and in the warmer months they may seem appealing for recreation.

But canals can be a deadly place to play, and it's important to take precaution.

Canals are abundant in the valley, and many are close to home. Lindsey Houslig is a busy mom with two small children and one on the way, and she understands the importance of keeping her kids away from the water.

“If they fall in there, it's really hard to get back out, so I would definitely warn them-- they're not for fun, they're not to swim in, those are not for playing in," said Houslig.

Max Schmidt, the manager of the Orchard Mesa Irrigation District, says getting too close to a canal can be deadly.

“If you fall in my canal, I have pipelines in my canal, if you go into them-- some of them are over a quarter mile long-- you do not come out alive," Schmidt said.

Canals can poise a danger to dogs as well.

“The dog is walking along there, he wants a drink, these banks are very sheer, they fall in and the velocity is so high, they cannot get out," said Schmidt.

Near the backyard of many homes in the valley are irrigation ditches. Justyn Hock, of the Bureau of Reclamation, says although they are smaller in size, they can be as lethal as canals for small children.

“Irrigation ditches tend to run smaller in size, but they are still dangerous and we encourage the public to stay away from canals and irrigation ditches, and for the most part they are actually private property, and it's trespassing to be in them," said Hock.

The best piece of advice officials have is to stay away from canals and educate your children when it comes to the dangers.

“The summer is going to be hot; the canal is attractive. Please stay away from it," said Schmidt.

When Houslig's kids want to play in the water, she will make sure they have somewhere to go-- far away from canals.

“We have a little kiddie pool in the backyard; we turn on sprinklers, find other safe ways for them to play in the water. There are lots of other options," said Houslig.

If you want your kids to learn more about canal safety, the Ute Water District will be having their annual Children's Water Festival. The date of the event will be announced sometime this month.

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