Sounding off to keep you safe

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Since Memorial Day weekend, three people have drowned on the Chattahoochee River, three people died while kayaking in the Tallapoosa River and there’s been at least three cases where people had to be rescued after being stranded.

With all of these recent incidents, the dangers of rising waters are once again raising concerns.

When the four dam open in the evening, Georgia Power sounds sirens at each location.

The main reason the sirens go off is to let people know water levels are about to rise and become more dangerous.

In May 2013, Uptown Columbus and WhiteWater Express joined forces to create their own siren system.

They developed the system during the construction of longest urban white water rafting course in the world.

Robert Watkins with Georgia Power said the company can’t generate power until the siren goes off.

“They’re designed to warn people in the immediate area of the dam that we’re about to start generation,” Watkins said. “People just need to respect [the Chattahoochee] and know that if you don’t have a life jacket on down there and you slip into the river, bad things can happen to you.”

“Even with the siren, Brenda Dukes, who lives in Upatoi, Georgia, thinks one more step can be done to keep people safe.

“I think that’s a good thing as long as everyone knows that’s what the siren is for so maybe have a sign that says, siren goes off when water is rough so be alert,” Dukes said. “Normal common sense is helpful as well.”

Water comes from the dams to generate power in the area and releases at varying times depending on electrical demand and rainfall.

Since the siren can go off at any time, be aware of what it means: The water is rising. You need to head to shore.

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