As the weather warms, kayakers remind people of water safety tips

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study found that adult males account for an overwhelming majority of drownings.

The study cites ‘overconfidence’ as the main reason, but the Army Corps of Engineers says water safety matters no matter who you are – because everywhere there is a plan. water, there is a risk.

Now that boating and kayaking are picking up as the summer season approaches, a local kayaking business says it’s crucial to take steps to stay safe.

Jeremy McRae has been kayaking for over a decade and, according to him, over the past few years more and more people seem interested in getting in the water.

“It’s taken off pretty well for the past six years, but especially the last two or three years. Especially with COVID, I mean kayaking just took off in this area,” he said.

But less experience comes with more risk.

“It brings in a lot of new people who never grew up doing that, so they don’t know the water very well they don’t know, you know the boats. They don’t know the rules, the regulations there- down,” McRae said. “They don’t know about security.”

He advises beginners never to go it alone, but he says no matter the skill level there is one crucial step, bring a whistle and a life jacket.

“You always want to have a life jacket, no matter how comfortable you are swimming,” McRae said. “If you haven’t done it much, make sure you put on a life jacket.”

And that rule applies to any aquatic activity on any body of water, as David Quebedeaux, a ranger with the Army Corps of Engineers said, there is always a risk of drowning.

“Drownings can happen anywhere,” Quebedeaux said. “It could happen in a lake, a river, a swimming pool, it could happen in a ditch next to your house.”

Last year there were 62 drownings in the state of Georgia. Eight of these are at Army Corps of Engineer parks, with the majority being at Lake Thurmond in Clark’s Hill. And a lot of that could be because people are challenging themselves to swim to the buoys.

“If they can, they feel pretty good about themselves, but if you can’t drown, and if you’re not ready to swim, you’re not ready to survive. Make sure you know how to swim, make sure you have a life jacket,” Quebedeaux said.

Whether swimming, boating or kayaking, safety is essential. McRae says accidents are rare, but as the old saying goes: it’s better to be safe than sorry.

“You have to have this life jacket all the way, it’s about keeping your nose and mouth above the surface of the water,” Quebedeaux said.

“At the end of the day, we do it because we love it and we don’t want anyone getting hurt on our boats,” McRae said.

McRae said kayakers can take other steps to stay safe.

McCrea and Quebedeaux said there are other measures to take safely this summer when you’re out on the water.

Along with wearing a life jacket, McRae said kayakers should always keep a whistle and a cell phone nearby. Also, avoid high traffic boat areas, always hit the waves at an angle, keep your body straight up and down, stay close to the water’s edge, avoid areas called strainers which are jammed with logs and trees, don’t drink or kayak. , and avoid running after equipment and wildlife.

Quebedeaux said to always wear a life jacket, bring plenty of soft drinks to drink, and don’t try to swim to the buoys, especially not without a life jacket.

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