Drowning numbers average the same as last year

Drowning numbers average the same as last year

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - It has been a busy summer for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

They say they've seen about the same number of drownings as last year. Although it's the end of the swimming and boating season, they say don't let your guard down.

"Normally, we see a higher drowning rate when the lake levels are lower. This year the lake levels were up and I feel like the drownings weren't as frequent because of that," said Bobby Timmerman with Georgia DNR.

Timmerman said that's because when the water level is lower, people tend to swim further out to exposed land and get tired.

Over Labor Day weekend, the drowning of a Lincoln County teenager brought the number of drownings this year in the CSRA to nine. Officials said that was an instance where they believe the teen got tired.

"The drowning's that we have seen, it's always someone trying to swim to an object in the water. Many times people will try to swim to an island or a buoy that's in the waterway and they don't realize how far it is then when they get about half-way there they realize they're tired," Timmerman said.

S.P.L.A.S.H. Georgia is an initiative by Governor Nathan Deal's wife, Sandra Deal, to promote water safety. It stands for: supervision, prevention,  look before you leap,  arms‐length, swim lessons and have a water safety plan.

Officials said all of the points are important but one is often forgotten.

"The first thing in the splash acronym is supervision. Make sure you have a good vision of your child and you're keeping a watch over them," said Timmerman.

But officials said no matter how many safety tips are given, you can never be sure and the water is nothing to take lightly.

"It's unbelievable. We actually had a close friend that died just playing in the river at a place that everyone goes," said Nicholas MacDonald. "A lot of people have been there and they've done it a bunch of times. One of our close friends jumped in and tried to save him and was unable to and almost drowned himself."

And because of that MacDonald said he's starting early, making sure that he teaches his child proper safety for the water.

DNR officials say there are just as many accidents in the winter as there are in the summer. They ask everyone to be aware of what they are doing and to always be safe.

Copyright 2014 WFXG. All rights reserved.