GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. – The Tennessee Valley has seen several drownings already this year and as the warm weather approaches, rescue squads are urging caution to boaters and swimmers.
Just last week, crews in Marshall County had to tell the family of 17-year-old Emmanuel Villalobos that they found their son. He had drowned in the Double Bridges area while swimming. The water was dangerous and much too cold.
The Guntersville Rescue Squad assists with just about every drowning call that comes through dispatch, including that latest drowning.
“We’ve worked far too many. I really wish we wouldn’t have to work another one,” said C.J. Jones of the Guntersville Rescue Squad.
Jones helped with that search and many others and says many of them can be easily prevented. “Boating safety is a big, big one,” Jones explained. “Coming up with summer and spring on its way and everyone wanting to get out on the water, we just want to encourage everyone to please, please wear your life jackets.” Jones says they’ve never worked a drowning where the victim had on a life preserver. Even if you do know how to swim, the rescue squad encourages you to still put one on while boating, in case something happens and you get knocked unconscious.
Other suggested safety measures are to be aware of the water where you’re boating, celebrate responsibly and bring a map or GPS. “If you’re going to be boating somewhere and you’re going to be out for an extended period of time, make sure somebody knows where you’re going to be,” Jones said. “Be mindful of your surroundings. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve gotten calls out here where people have no idea where they’re at.”
While swimming be mindful of cold water that could pose issues, know the water where you’re swimming, and always tell someone where you’ll be. “Just simple preventative measures can keep a lot of this from happening,” Jones said.
The rescue squad encourages parents to put their kids in swimming lessons early as well.