It's one of the best times of the year if you like to raft.

This year, with the heavier than usual snowpack, the spring runoff will be faster and colder than usual. Rafting companies will make sure you get everything you need to stay safe on the water, but what if you want to go rafting on your own?

Safety on the river should always be of paramount importance, so let's take a look at a few ways to stay safe this spring and summer cruising the waterways of Western Colorado.

Do NOT do this by yourself.

Fast, cold water like what we are going to be experiencing should not be rafted alone. Having at least one other person with you gives you the knowledge if something happens, someone will be there to do something about it. Do not raft alone.

The quickest way to drown is to not have anything help you stay afloat. Rafting companies use these to keep themselves safe, and so should you. You can find them in a number of places, and not too expensive.

If you have never rafted on your own before (that is, without a rafting company and guide) you need to know how to handle what you're about to get yourself into. First, notice the speed of the water. With the runoff we will be experiencing the water is going to be a lot faster. If you have rafted before, you know as quickly as the water seems on the surface, it's faster under it.

If you fall out of the raft, make sure you are able to get back into the raft quickly. If you get separated from it and there is whitewater ahead, float feet first, on your back and don't lock your knees. Once you successfully get through those, get back to the raft as quickly as you can.

Other things you should do, such as keeping shoes on, for example, will help if you capsize. Sharp rocks in the river will cut your feet if you don't keep them protected.

There are other things you will need to make sure of but let me remind you of one very important thing. It won't keep you from drowning but will keep you from burning your skin to shreds. Sunblock. Add the proper SPF for your skin and you will be ready to go.

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