Swimming in lakes requires extra precautions

WEST POINT, Ga — The Fourth of July holiday has passed, but summer vacations are still in season.

For many of us, area lakes are a popular destination. If you decide to go for a swim, safety should always be your first thought.

If swimming in a lake, there are some specific things to remember.

At West Point Lake, for example, there have been two drownings so far this year.  Rangers say the main reasons most people drown in lakes are because they venture into unfamiliar areas of the water and panic sets in.

“But if you go swim out here, anywhere in the lake, you may encounter drop offs or steep areas that you might not be able to get back up to the bank. There could be floating logs or debris under the water, which could make it hazardous for swimming. So we really encourage people to swim at designated swimming areas,” says Supervisory Ranger David Barr with the Army Corps of Engineers at West Point Lake.

“Reach, throw, but never go. If you can simply reach out your hand and pull them into safety, that’s a good way to do it. Reach them with a stick, a boat paddle, anything like that, that’s a good way to do it. If they’re a little bit too far out, you can throw something out there to them that floats.”

Ranger Barr says the reason it’s better to reach or throw something out to a person in trouble is because it keeps you safer. Often, a person drowning will accidentally submerge his or her rescuer due to panic, and both could end up victims.

For even the most experienced swimmers, life jackets are recommended when swimming and boating on lakes.

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