Columbus law requires swimmers and boaters to wear life jacket - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Columbus law requires swimmers and boaters to wear life jacket

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

In 2012 the Columbus Consolidated Government approved an ordinance requiring anyone in or on the Chattahoochee River to wear a life jacket, but emergency officials and city officials worry that people aren't taking head to their warning.

"Anytime that you're around here at the venue between North Highland and the Trade Center you're supposed to have a PFD on," explains Captain Scott Boatner with Columbus Fire and Rescue.

Captain Boatner says anyone within 300 feet of the Chattahoochee River is required to wear a personal flotation device or PFD. Captain Boatner says abiding by this rule could ensure that you're safe and not sorry on or near the river.

"You know -- accidents happen, but if you got the vest on, there's a good chance there'll be a good outcome from it," Boatner adds.

Even with this weekend's drowning of a 14-year-old boy, it's a law that RiverWalk visitors say they didn't know about, but have mixed reactions on.

"It seems a little pointless," visitor Timothy Flowers said. "Signs already say enter at your own risk."

RiverWalk frequent visitor, Lauren Regalado says "I feel like it is a safety for our children to have it on -- for anybody. Also, I do feel like sometimes it's an inconvenience especially on a hot day."

An even bigger inconvenience, Boatner says, is that there seems to be little enforcement of the ordinance, other than with the WhiteWater Express. It's something Boatner tells me he hopes changes soon to prevent future drownings.

"You're at the water's mercy in that kind of circumstance," Boatner says.

Boatner says you can pick up your own life jacket at stores like Wal-Mart or any life style store. he urges that if you and your family are close to the water's edge, please wear some type of personal flotation device.

For more boating and water safety tips head to http://www.cdc.gov/features/boatingsafety/.

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