COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – It has been a busy month for area water rescue crews with over five rescues and three deaths between the Chattahoochee River and Lake Oliver.
Police say none of the victims were wearing a life jacket, prompting a new awareness on river protocol and safety.
"The people who were drowning didn't have a life vest. Five dollars for a life vest and it could have saved someone's life," said Alex Hernandez who was whitewater rafting.
"That's the reason we have our life vests. As long as you're prepared for the elements, you should be, fine," said another group who were enjoying the River.
With signs, warnings, and even fatal reminders, the Chattahoochee River continues to be a deadly force, for the people aware of the dangers, and those who are not.
Officials say they cannot stress enough the importance of safety, following the rules, and using common sense.
"If you are down here between 13th Street and Dillingham Bridge, you got to have a life jacket on if you are between 15 feet of the water," said Chief Donald Jones with the Columbus Fire and EMS.
City officials and Columbus Fire Marshals are currently thinking of different ways to make people more aware of the dangers.
A new city ordinance is being drafted that would increase citation and fines when not using proper water safety rules.
"We're hoping that the $200 dollars will bring awareness to a lot of people," said Jones.
The ordinance would increase the fine for being in or too close to the river from $25 to $200.
Along with the larger fines, more warning posters would be added along the riverbanks and walkways.
"Hopefully that will get some folks to start paying attention, just keep up with your kids and learn to swim, but, mainly if you are down here in this part of the water, make sure you have a life jacket," said Jones.
This potential new ordinance will have to be voted and approved by the Columbus City Council before it can go into effect.
The current fine for violating water safety rules along the Chattahoochee River is $25.