Authorities stress water safety amid uptick of drownings in CSRA

Updated: May. 24, 2021 at 6:38 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - After another drowning this weekend we’ve now seen five people die in our local waterways in just a month. The number sounds shocking when you hear it but we wanted to check is it normal to see this many drownings this time of year?

The state has had 12 drownings already this year and five of them have come from our area alone. Four of those happened at Clarks Hill Lake compared to no drownings at Clarks Hill last year.

The rules aren’t new.

“One of the most important things that we want people to do when they’re around water anybody, even if you’re an Olympic swimmer we want you to have a life jacket,” said Cpl. Ben Payne of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

But an uptick in recent drownings indicate more people getting back outside after a long year cooped up.

“All of us as human beings, we need our recreation time,” said Payne.

In fact, Georgia DNR says boat rental companies and dealerships are selling so often it’s hard for them to keep boats in stock. But getting back on the water doesn’t mean getting reckless.

“With these incidents we’ve had, with some of the interviews that we did, we found that there was some alcohol use with those incidents. Not all of them, but some of them,” he said.

In Georgia, you are allowed to have alcohol on the water so long as you have a sober operator. But even without alcohol, the most experienced swimmers are prone to emergencies.

“A lot of times when you end up in the water, you - the whole atmosphere and the temperature of the water, it can cause you to panic,” he said.

As we go venture outside, as we enjoy these hot temperatures, as we return to life as we remember it it’s also important to remember safety comes first. There needs to be a life jacket for every person on a boat and kids under 13 need to wear them at all times. But DNR recommends everyone wear them whenever they aren’t in a swimming area where they can stand.

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