Fire Department encourages creek safety

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - Recent rain and snow that have hit the area are causing an increase in water levels.

A bench sits in the middle of Rapid Creek as water floods the greenway. (KOTA TV)

A big concern with safety near flowing water is obviously the speed. However, rising water levels from runoff and precipitation, make it hard to see what could be right below the surface.

"One of the biggest hazards that we are concerned about is what are known as strainers, and a strainer is anything that water will go through but a body will not. So if you find yourself in the creek being swept away and you end up in a strainer that is a life-threatening situation," says Lt. Jim Bussell with Rapid City Police Department.

This can be dangerous for adults and children alike, especially as the school year ends and kids spend summer outside.

"It's been tough even for an adult, but if there's a child again being very inquisitive gets close to the creek side you know they're just a step away from tragedy so we want to just advise the public to take extreme care," says Darrell Shoemaker with the City of Rapid City.

If an accident does happen and you slip into the creek there are a few things you can do to try getting out. Keep your head and feet above the water and point your feet toward the shore downstream. If you are with another person they should try to follow along the creek edge to give rescue teams a last seen point.

"We'll put rescuers downstream and have downstream containment. We'll establish a top end of that box so to speak and work to locate the individual and then begin rescue efforts," says Bussell.

Bussell and Shoemaker both want to emphasize that while people may want to go out near the creek or take pictures it's best to keep your distance from the creek edge. If you do fall in debris and plants under the water can catch on a person's clothing or limbs putting their life in danger.