Utah has seen less than a handful of child drownings thus far this season, but UDOH spokeswoman Jenny Johnson said record river flows threaten to push that number higher.
Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for Utahns under 17, according to UDOH data. Between 2011 and 2015, there were 42 drowning-related deaths for children in that age range, about half of them under 4 years old.
Similarly, half the roughly 10 drownings total in Utah so far this year have involved children, according to UDOH data.
In the past month, two children drowned in incidents specifically tied to swollen rivers, one a 9-year-old boy who fell into the Ogden River in early May and the other a toddler swept away in Cache County's Blacksmith Fork Canyon on Sunday.
Nationally and in Utah, nearly two-thirds of drowning deaths occur between May and August, statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and UDOH indicate.
"It's important this time of year to keep children of all ages safe around water, whether they're younger and don't know the risks or older children who might feel strong in the water," Applegate said.
In urging caution, she said many adults believe they would have time to react after hearing a drowning child call for help or splash, when in reality drowning is mostly silent.
"When you are downing, your effort is just trying to get another breath," Applegate said. "It's not like in the movies when you hear a scream. When a child is drowning, don't expect to know it."
Whether swimming in a lake during a camping trip or taking a bath at home, Applegate said supervision is key for keeping children safe. She suggested having a designated water watcher at public swimming areas, someone who is not distracted by other adults or a smartphone.
Health officials also advise taking swim lessons, using life jackets in open water and getting certified in resuscitation techniques.