Rescuers Issue Water Safety Tips

With spring break coming up, lots of younger people are expected to be near the rivers, and officials say it makes for a dangerous situation if swimmers don't understand the area.

"It can quickly pick up the pace," said Columbia Fire Department Public Information Officer Brick Lewis. "The levels will increase and you can be trapped on an island or swept away off your feet in a matter of seconds."

Responders say it's not uncommon for them to rescue people from a surrounded rock during the summer months. If you do happen to find yourself isolated by water, the best thing to do is stay calm.

"Stay where you're at," said Sergeant Rhett Bickley with the Department of Natural Resources. "A lot of times you're on a rock that you know was out of the water earlier, even though you may be cut off from getting on the land you're a lot better staying on that rock until we can get to you, or until somebody can get to you and give you help than you are trying to fight the current coming back across."

Alcohol further impairs that judgement and is a common tag-a-long during river outings.

Officials say the situation is an avoidable one, however and warnings are in place to make sure of that.

"SCE&G has a system, an alert system that can go off that you'll hear. A siren, it can also have strobes during the night hours that you can obviously see," said Lewis. "That siren will sound, it gives those who are on the river to get off the river at that time."

When talking to those they rescue, responders say they've found many stay in the river for a little bit following the alarm, but the system is timed to tell people to get out at the time that it sounds.

Something that could help swimmers and fishermen who may get caught by a current is a life-jacket, which responders say could be the difference between a fatality and a funny story.

By following these simple rules, rescue teams hope to lessen the amount the adults are called in to ruin the party.


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