Even experienced swimmers should wear personal flotation devices and practice water safety in the Chattahoochee River, warn local officials.

“It’s imperative that individuals have the skills to keep themselves safe in and around water,” said Becky Shipley, group vice president of the YMCA of Metro Atlanta.

The Chattahoochee River National Recreational Area, YMCA of Metro Atlanta and WABE have partnered up to raise awareness about water safety.

“Through this partnership, we are sharing essential water safety skills to prevent drownings and save lives,” Shipley said.

The water safety campaign encourages individuals to use personal flotation devices (PFD) while swimming in the river.

“While flotation devices should be used on the entire river, individuals recreating in the Palisades unit should pay special attention to the guidance to wear a PFD,” said Ann Honious, superintendent of the park.

“The Chattahoochee River has cold temperatures and a strong current that can be challenging even for expert swimmers,” Honious said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 3,960 fatal drownings occur each year in the U.S.

Locally, more than 15 people have drown in the park’s Palisades unit in Cobb County since 2012. The overwhelming majority of the victims have been young Black males.

The water safety campaign began over Labor Day weekend with posters in the park’s Palisades unit.

In addition, the organizations will share a video featuring Patrice Childs. Patrice is the mother of Priness Childs, who drowned in June while trying to save his cousins.

“Working with the National Recreational Area and the YMCA of Metro Atlanta to give Patrice Childs a platform to share her very personal story and vital, potentially life-saving information is in keeping with WABE’s mission,” said WABE CEO/President Jennifer Dorian.

“We hope our messages explaining the importance of wearing life vests on the river will keep people safe and prevent more mothers from having stories similar to Ms. Childs.”

For more information, visit: nps.gov/chat

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