Park County Sheriff's Office Cautions Canal Safety | Big Horn Basin Media

Park County Sheriff’s Office Cautions Canal Safety

Written by on April 20, 2020

There’s a new spring hazard in the Bighorn Basin – canals.

The Park County Sheriff’s Office reminds all residents that irrigation canals are now seeing increased flow and use from hobby gardeners, local farmers, and several others taking advantage of the spring runoff flowing through the thousands of miles of canals throughout the state. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of ten people die from unintentional drowning every day in the United States.  Of these, one in five are children aged 14 or younger.  Also, ingesting irrigation water from these canals can cause serious health problems.

The Sheriff’s Office has a full list of safety suggestions for Park County residents:

  • Never swim or allow children to swim in canals. Canals are dangerous due to slippery banks, diversions, and fluctuating currents.
  • Do not allow children to play near canals. Do not walk along the banks or edges of canals, which can be very slick.
  • Never jump in to recover toys or objects, nor to rescue pets. Instead, call 911 for help.
  • Obey all posted warning signs. If walking, jogging or biking along canals, keep a safe distance from the edges of the flowing water.
  • Never use canal irrigation water to fill swimming pools, “kiddie” pools, hot tubs or for bathing or drinking.  Water from canals can contain agricultural runoff, bacteria, protozoans, chemicals, fecal material from animals, or other contaminants.
  • Label all standpipes from irrigation piped systems that use canal water with the words “NON-POTABLE – DO NOT DRINK”.  Irrigation water for edible crops and/or gardens should not come into direct contact with edible parts of the plant unless the crop will be peeled, skinned, or cooked before eating.
  • Never connect piping using irrigation water with freshwater potable water systems. Canal water is not chlorinated and can pollute drinking water systems.

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