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Going out to swim or hike this weekend? Here are some tips to stay safe.

Warner River as it flows through Bradford, NH. Dan Tuohy photo / NHPR
Dan Tuohy
Warner River as it flows through Bradford, NH.

New Hampshire Fish and Game is warning Granite Staters that water conditions are more dangerous than usual. As autumn approaches and temperatures begin to drop, there are additional hazards for people heading outdoors, especially above treeline.

Last weekend, search and rescue teams responded to multiple emergency calls near Mount Washington, as weather conditions deteriorated.

In the past month, two people have died in New Hampshire trying to rescue their children from water.

Col. Kevin Jordan with New Hampshire Fish and Game said this summer has been busy for search and rescue teams, and he attributes it mostly to weather conditions – especially all the rain.

“These rivers are faster, the water is deeper, and it’s colder,” he said. “These are all challenges for survivability, if you get yourself into trouble.”

Jordan says people should make sure children have floatation devices, look critically at the water, and take into account how all the rain has affected currents and depth.

“We’d rather see people go into places where there’s lifeguards and sanctioned swimming areas,” he said, recommending people avoid swimming in rivers.

Read more on how rain has affected swimming this summer

For those going hiking, Jordan says it’s important to remember temperatures are dropping fast above treeline, even if it may feel warm down at the trailhead.

“It’s not summer up there anymore,” he said, noting that the wind chill last weekend was in the 20s on Mount Washington. “If you don’t have gear with you, proper equipment to be in weather conditions like that, you can become hypothermic very quickly.”

Hikers should look at the weather before they leave home and bring gear they would use for wintertime, like extra layers and hats. He also recommends bringing flashlights and something that could be used to start a fire.

“Those kinds of things can make the difference between life and death,” he said.

More information on what to bring on a hike can be found at hikesafe.com.

Jordan says the rescues take a toll on his team; teams are turning around right after one rescue to go up and find another person.

“We want people to come up and recreate,” Jordan said. “But we want them to go home safely.”

Mara Hoplamazian reports on climate change, energy, and the environment for NHPR.

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