Park rangers talk swimming safety for holiday weekend

HENDERSON COUNTY, Tenn. — Many people have plans to spend time near and in the water with family and friends this Memorial Day weekend.

But after an 18-year-old recently drowned at Pickwick Lake earlier this month, officials want to remind people the dangers of swimming in our rivers, ponds and lakes.

Most local ponds and lakes will have signs posted with safety tips on them, and park rangers say the reminders are not to be taken lightly.

“You need to be aware of other activities that are going on around you in the water,” state park Ranger Chris Hill said. “Especially if you are in an area where motor boats are out and about, just assume that they don’t see you.”

The holiday weekend is one of the busiest times of the year for Natchez Trace State Park, keeping park rangers like Hill, busy.

“We work extra personnel so we will have plenty people to respond if there is an emergency that goes on,” he said.

He said a lot of those emergencies can be prevented.

When it comes to swimming, Hill said using the ‘buddy system’ is crucial.

“Know what each others limitations are, don’t try to force them into something you’re not comfortable with and vice versa,” he said.

Hill said swimming in a pond or lake is more dangerous than in a swimming pool. Even if the water looks calm, there could be hidden dangers beneath.

So if a section is roped off, it is for a good reason.

“Even vegetation that could tangle up in your feet, and there could be sudden drop offs that you are not able to see,” he said.

But by following these safety rules, you can keep the fun going without a hitch.

Park rangers also want to remind you, if you are unable to swim always wear a life jacket before heading out on the water.

Natchez Trace State Park is hosting a water safety training day on July 1.

If you are interested in signing up, you can click here.