SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — As the snow melts, the rivers are starting to swell, and that can lead to both fun and danger.

Experts are warning people that plan on going treating that using the wrong equipment could be deadly.

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Buying an inexpensive boat to cruise along the lower Sacramento may be fine this year, but if you plan on riding the rapids, experts say, going cheap could cost you your life.

At the confluence of Highway 49 in Auburn, some men experienced first-hand why there are signs warning about the dangers of the American River.

“It is fast, it is cold the today on the morning is probably slower but right now it’s fast,” says Guy Cables.

He knows rivers better than most. He’s been in the business of rafting for forty plus years and says buying a cheap boat online or at a discount store for riding the rapids is risky.

“Cheap, unreinforced vinyl boats, we call those pool toys, don’t take those and rivers they puncture easily. They don’t have the heavy-duty fabric they break they are not self-bailing.  Self-bailing adds $1,000 to the price of the boat instantly.” says Cables.

Last Saturday, a Sacramento man died when the boat he was in, reported to be an inexpensive vinyl boat, flipped over near Colfax.

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Cables says, in addition to wearing a helmet and life vest, being in a self-bailing boat that won’t fill with water is much safer.

“If the boat fills with water it’s out of control the water drains out you can control and maneuver the boat,” says Cables.

With this year’s swift-moving water, Cables says it’s best for the inexperienced to use professional guides.

He says when he sees rookies using the wrong equipment for the job, he doesn’t hesitate to speak up.

“I stop ’em. I yell at ’em. I go out on the river if I’m on a boat and I tell them, get to shore, you’re going to die if you don’t do this,” says Cables.

The more appropriate boats for the rapids will start at about $1500.

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