Easy access to river brings scrutiny to rafting safety

COLUMBUS, GA (WXTX) - The water is flowing, the weather is perfect, and everyone seems to be making their way down to the river. But jumping in too quickly could be very dangerous.

People are gaining access to the Chattahoochee River like never before. The excitement over the white water project coming to Columbus has some people pulling out their rafts sooner than later; but, Fire Marshal Ricky Shores says diving in too soon can be very dangerous.

"There's a lot of debris in those tidal areas and so until they get them all cleaned out, we would certainly ask that people stay out of those areas because they are clearly unsafe at this point."

Authorities say rafters should take precaution because there are more than rocks beneath the waters.

"Certainly there are various obstacles upon the water that you can't see and that may be a piece of reed bar, a piece of wood from an old wooden dam that was there before. A lot of dangers associated with being in the river right now. You have to understand the river hasn't been in the condition it is in right now for many years. So we want to make sure we are careful and not in too big of a rush to enjoy this new change to our community," said Shores.

Just a few blocks away, the Swift Water and Rope Rescue teams are primarily housed at station one. Traditionally boats were used to rescue people. However, now that the dams are gone, the water level is too low to house a boat.

"We'll have to modify our rescue techniques and we may find ourselves in a situation where it's more appropriate to do a rope or a high angle rescue operation."

Shores says we have plenty of time to enjoy this new addition but right now authorities are asking people to use good judgment and stay out of this area.

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