Digging Deeper: Drownings and swimming safety - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Digging Deeper: Drownings and swimming safety

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Through the end of April 10 people have drowned in Georgia streams and rivers.

Just in the last week we had two drownings here in south Georgia, one in a Lee County creek and the other in a Turner County Swimming Pool.

That's prompted warnings from the Department of Natural Resources to local Code Enforcement Officers.

The U.S. averages 3,400 drownings a year, here in Georgia's its about 55 a year and that doesn't include what's happens in backyard swimming pools. That's why with the sweltering heat, safety officials say you're got to be careful around the water's edge.

Temperatures in the 90's have more kids in the pool, but with several drownings already reported this year, it's got parents worried about making sure their kids can swim.

"If you're going to be around water if you're going to be around a pool I think you need to know the basics of swimming in case you do fall in I know you can grab a safe side," said Jana Domyslawski, a concerned parent.

Water Safety Instructors say children can learn water safety at an early age.

"You can start exposing them anywhere from a year up," said Duster Burnett, WSI trained.

Duster Burnett says a child should never be left alone in the pool area, and adults shouldn't get in the water alone.

"Adults don't need to be in there alone. If an adult is by themselves they don't need to swim you need to have at least three tow to help in case one gets in trouble," said Burnett.

If you're using the creek or river to cool off, DNR rangers say if you're on a boat, life jackets are a must.

"Every person aboard a boat needs to wear a life jacket I believe they say 90 percent of victims that drown during a boating accident weren't wearing a life jacket," said Ben Roberts, DNR Ranger.

With water levels down, because of dry conditions jumping in from the boat or riverbank can be dangerous.

"You need to be aware of the bottom, the rocks, the stumps that may be just below the surface that are normally well under the water surface. Those things can harm you jumping in," said Roberts.

 Digging Deeper we learned even pools brought at big box stores could require a fence according to Albany's ordinance.

"Usually they're blue and they have a ring that you blow up and then you just fill up the pool, if the water is less than 24 inches you do not need a gate, but it is more than 24 inches you're supposed to have a fence around it with a self locking gate," said Code Enforcement Director Mike Tilson.

Any in-ground pool also requires the self locking fence. Code Enforcement says if you buy a pool in a box from the store you don't need a permit, but if you have a company install an above ground pool without a permit you're breaking the law.

Neighbors worried about an unsafe pool condition can alert code enforcement by simply calling Albany's 311 non-emergency number.

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