Officials say retention ponds have hidden dangers and could possibly lead to deadly outcomes

West Fargo Fire Department urges the public to know the best safety measures when living around non-recreational bodies of water
Published: Jul. 28, 2023 at 6:20 PM CDT
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WEST FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) -

After a week of hot temperatures it makes sense that some are finding creative ways to stay cool. However, we’ve seen reports of children playing in retention ponds, specifically in the Eagle Run neighborhood of West Fargo. It’s important to know the best safety measures when living around non-recreational bodies of water.

Something as innocuous as a retention pond can quickly become deadly.

Community Risk Reduction Officer of the West Fargo Fire Department, Travis Olson says, “It becomes an instant swimming pool and that’s what kids see, they see fun, but they don’t see the dangers.”

While it’s understandable that kids are enjoying the summer weather outdoors and might try to find relief from the heat in nearby water, it is extremely unsafe to do so. In recent years, we’ve reported on several stories involving retention pond and river drownings. Like the drowning that also took place in the Eagle Run neighborhood in 2018.

Olson says, retention ponds hold hidden dangers, like thick mud, swift drop offs, and toxins. Retention ponds are the result of run-off from the streets and flooding rivers to capture pollutants and sediments before the water is filtered back out into the river.

“They can easily become overcome by that mud, by the water, and then become drowning victims,” explains Olson.

While it isn’t illegal to swim in retention ponds, it’s not advisable. Instead, Olson recommends families who don’t have access to a pool or lake, to invest in water balloons, squirt guns, or a sprinkler.

If you do notice children in your neighborhood swimming in a retention pond to let authorities know.

Olson says, “If you see that and it happens, imagine the emotional roller-coaster you would be on it’d be very sad. So if you’re just trying to prevent someone from being hurt, or injured, or even dying. I would applaud you for pointing that out.”

Olson advises that if you notice someone drowning to not attempt saving them on your own, but to call 911 right away. He says to leave the rescue to first responders so there is only one victim, not two.