Are rivers more dangerous than pools? Here's what to look out for.

Monday, July 1, 2019
News 12 at 5 and 6 o'clock

With Fourth of July and extreme temperatures headed our way, it's important to be knowledgeable of the river's hidden dangers before jumping in. (Source: WRDW/WAGT)

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- According to  EndDrowningNow.org,  more people drown in rivers than any other body over water, including pools.

With Fourth of July right around the corner and a fast-approaching heat wave, it's important to remember how to stay safe in the water.

According to Savannah Riverkeeper Truck Carlson, hazards on the river are plentiful. He says the two most dangerous aspects of the river are strong currents and "snags" that lie unseen on the bottom.

"The river moves," Carlson said. "The body of water is always moving. Some fast, some slow, and depending upon the time of day and what's happening at the dam, you can't really predict how fast the water is going to be moving."

Carlson calls hazards on the river-bottom "snags," and they can bring down even the strongest swimmers. When walking or swimming in the river, it is always a possibility that an article of clothing or appendage could get caught on a rock or branch that lies beneath the water.

Not to mention, jumping into unknown waters poses additional threats.

"There could be a tree stump two feet under the water and if you jump in, you could break your leg, crack your head, and that takes away any advantage of being a strong swimmer," Carlson said.

Drowning is the number one cause of death among children ages 1-5 and the second leading cause of unintentional-injury related deaths among children 1-14. Last year, Georgia ranked in the top 10 for drowning deaths nationwide.

Fortunately, there are steps people can take to better prepare themselves for emergencies in the water.

Perhaps the most important step is to always have a buddy nearby. Leslie Wright of Savannah Rapids Kayak Rental calls this "common sense," but its a tiny step that could mean the difference between life and death.

Wright also says "life jackets are your best friend." Legally, life vests are required on board any boat or kayak. However, people over the age of 12 are not required to wear them. With that being said, people have the tendency to overestimate their abilities in the water and according to Wright, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Carlson also mentioned that alcohol and water-play do not make a favorable combination. EndDrowningNow.org says that alcohol contributes to more than 50% of boating accidents.

"With all this heat, you're going to lose more water in your own body than you realize, which means the alcohol is going to affect you in a much stronger way," Carlson said.

Finally, when spending time near any body of water with a young child, it is crucial to always supervise them. It only takes one second for a responsible adult to turn their head and a child run into the water.

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