HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — With more and more people expecting to go out on the water these next few months, the Henrico Fire Department has given 8News a rundown on the best safety protocol to practice prior to any water excursion.

Battalion Chief Doug Reynolds said the weather is the first thing to look out for — but not just weather in your immediate location.

“If it’s been raining several days in the mountains that water takes four or five days to get to the Richmond area,” Reynolds said. “So you may say ‘well it didn’t rain here the other day’ but all of a sudden where’s all these floodwaters coming from.”

Reynolds also emphasized the importance of swimming — or partaking in any water-related activity — with a group. He also said children should never be left alone, as even the strongest swimmers can be vulnerable to mother nature’s unpredictable conditions.

Just yesterday, 12 people became mother nature’s victims, going over Bosher’s Dam in Richmond. Two women from the group are still yet to be found.

“If you go over the dam you get into what we call ‘the hydraulics’,” Reynolds said. “It’s almost like being stuck in a dryer, like a piece of clothes. It just keeps pulling you under and you just keep doing a circle and you can’t get away from it.”

Henrico County Fire Department’s Battalion Chief adds life jackets are key to a safe outdoor adventure. Not only is choosing to wear one a smart decision, but in some circumstances — it’s required by law. If the water level sits at five feet or higher, one must wear a suitable personal flotation device.

“You want to have this lifejacket on at all times,” Reynolds said. “Don’t confuse a water toy with a personal floatation device. This is coastguard approved, it is designed to bring you up, and put your head up out of the water.”

Remaining mindful is crucial to safety any time you find yourself out on any form of water.

“Anywhere on these rivers has potential for danger,” Reynolds added.