Rescue chief offers outdoor water safety tips

Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 8:06 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama’s lakes and rivers are beautiful and offer opportunities for a lot of fun, but they can also be very dangerous.

The Montgomery search and rescue dive team responds to six to eight calls each year.

They go through rigorous training to prepare for any rescue or recovery situation when a swimmer or boater gets in trouble.

“You know, along with anything, any fun activities, there’s always danger associated. And we want to be able to operate responsibly,” said Sam Castanza, the district chief for the Montgomery fire department’s special operations division.

Whether swimming, fishing or just riding on a boat, Castanza says you should always wear a life jacket. Even experienced swimmers should put on a life jacket. His highly trained team wears one anytime they get near the water.

“They’re extremely highly trained individuals. But it’s for our safety, you know, because you don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said.

That’s because the water can be unpredictable. Castanza says never underestimate the power of the water or overestimate your ability to swim.

“Now the Coosa River and the Alabama River, they both have current and a lot of people, they don’t know that the Coosa River is controlled by the amount of dam doors that are opened up on our dams. And so they may get in the water and there’s not a whole lot of current, they open up the doors and then there’s a lot more current there, they get swept away, you know, and unfortunate accidents happen,” he said.

Castanza reminds you not to mix alcohol and the water. It can be a dangerous combination

He also encourages you to have a buddy when on the water. Remember, there’s safety in numbers.

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