As the holiday weekend fast approaches, the Wilmington Fire Department is urging the public to be wary of the water.
First and foremost, WFD Battalion Chief Randy Burton cautions everyone to exercise extreme caution around the Cape Fear River.
"The currents here are really treacherous. (There are) all kinds of obstructions under the water. There's no visibility in the Cape Fear River, and we would rather no one go swimming here at all," Burton explained.
Burton recommends that all boaters wear the proper safety equipment while on the water.
"If you're boating or doing anything else on the water, we want everyone to have an approved life jacket on. That really helps," Burton said.
Burton explained that if something does go wrong, he and his team are ready to initiate rescue efforts.
"All of our responders with the Wilmington Fire Department are EMTB certified in the state. We practice advanced skills on that basic level in water rescue. We have a scuba dive and recovery team," Burton elaborated.
The chief said that drowning in the Cape Fear River isn't uncommon. He said they have recently seen at least one a year.
"Unfortunately that statistic over the past few years has been pretty rough on us," Burton explained. "We've had at least one or more incidents relating to drowning in the downtown area."
He also encourages parents to keep an eye on children while they're swimming.
"Children tend to drown pretty swiftly and pretty silently. It doesn't take but a few seconds and you can lose a child, unfortunately," Burton said.
Burton also warns against excessive drinking while on the water. He reminded all boaters to realize it is illegal to operate a vessel under the influence.
"If you are going to drink and have a good time out there, just do it in moderation," Burton said.
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