Each year, people die or are injured while boating, kayaking, or canoeing in KOTA Territory lakes and rivers.
By putting safety first, emergency crews and local water sports enthusiasts are being proactive in an effort to prevent the worst.
The Black Hills Paddlers and members of the Pennington County Water Rescue Team held a joint press conference and live demonstration on the essential gear, skills, and training needed to safely paddle the Black Hills' and South Dakota waters .
"After the fatalities that we've had over the last couple of years, we felt it's really important that we get the word out," said Black Hills Paddler Vice President Justin Herreman. "And make sure that people are aware of the resources that are out there for paddlers here in the Black Hills.
Herreman says personal floatation devices, helmets, and proper clothing are a must when participating in water sports.
A live demonstration showed different techniques to help either yourself or someone else in a dangerous situation.
"The more of those little hints, tips, and tricks that we can get out into the community, and just raise awareness level," said Pennington County Emergency Management Emergency Manager, Dustin Willett. "Hopefully it has a positive impact on reducing injuries and the tragedy's that unfortunately we see usually every year."
Experts say the most dangerous time to be in the water is after a thunderstorm when the water is high and fast-moving.
For more information visit the Black Hills Paddlers facebook page.