Water at swimming spots still dangerously high and cold

WILMINGTON, N.Y. (WCAX) As the temperatures warm up, you might feel the itch to get outside. The sun might send you to your local swimming spot. But first responders warn that the water is still too high and too cold, and you should think twice before making that jump.

Trekking through the Adirondack woods will lead you to serenity.

"It's a popular spot," New York DEC Forest Ranger Rob Praczkajlo said.

Travelers from near and far visit the Flume in Wilmington to soak up the sun and the mist of the falls. But with such a beautiful scene can come danger.

"Probably here a dozen or so a year," said Matt Levenson, a Wilmington firefighter EMT.

911 calls for many things, like falls and drug overdoses. But the worst call:

"We've had three drownings here in the last five years," Levenson said.

The drownings are from the high water levels, the cold water temperatures and the powerful current flowing.

"All it takes is a couple gulps of water," Praczkajlo said.

"People look at the river and don't understand the power of the river," Levenson said.

Swimmers or cliff jumpers end up shocked or scared, the current pulling them in a direction they don't want to go and forcing them to scramble to get to shore.

"They end up exerting themselves more than they need to," Praczkajlo said.

The danger is the flow of the water, similar to a riptide in the ocean.

"The water falls over the waterfall and then recirculates back behind it," Praczkajlo said.

Levenson says many of the deaths have been visitors to the area. He recommends people check in with locals before a swim.

"Ask your locals. If there is no one swimming in the water, maybe ask why there is no one swimming in the water," Levenson said.

These tips are relevant for any popular swimming hole, not just the Flume.

And first responders emphasize that if you see someone struggling in the water, do not jump in after them. Try to grab them safely from shore with a branch or a log and call 911.

They also say it is your responsibility to check the water before you jump. Cold water can shock your system and the depth of the water can vary drastically.