WASHINGTON (WDVM) — Water safety is a topic brought up every year as the weather warms up and people head to the beach, pool, lake or river. The season that officials consider their summer season is mid-May through mid-September. Already this year, water rescue teams have responded to dozens of calls on the Potomac River and two people have lost their lives due to drowning.
While the water may look calm, the river is filled with currents that can pull even experienced swimmers under. The water also looks shallow at the bank, but the river drops to 30+ feet deep just a few steps off the edge.
Water rescue teams are prepared to respond and save lives, but the water has no visibility, so they remind folks to be prepared when going out on the river.
Daniel W. McCoy, Deputy Fire Chief with D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services, said, “Wear protective floating devices and prepare for being stuck out in the open if your boat breaks down. Just like if you’re going camping, you want water, food, communications equipment, stuff like that.”
First responders said if you see a person in distress in the water, stay in that area as you call 9-1-1 so that the rescue team has a reference point to start the search, and try to describe landmarks so they can easily and quickly find you.
It is illegal to swim in the Potomac River.