‘Everybody come enjoy our lake, but please be safe doing so,’ Lake Waccamaw officials offer safety tips after fatal drowning

Officials offer lake safety tips after two recent fatal drownings.
Officials offer lake safety tips after two recent fatal drownings.(WECT)
Published: Jun. 6, 2022 at 8:57 PM EDT
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LAKE WACCAMAW, N.C. (WECT) - This weekend, a man died at Lake Waccamaw after becoming distressed and drowning. Just a couple of weeks ago, a teenager also drowned at the lake after his kayak flipped over while he was out with friends.

“We have had more calls on the lake so far going into our season than we normally do,” said Chief Brandy Nance with Lake Waccamaw Fire and Rescue.

In the past 28 days, they’ve responded to 4 calls on the lake. Two of those were fatal drownings.

Officials like Chief Nance are urging boaters and swimmers to have a plan in place before going out on the water, so their call numbers don’t continue to rise.

“This lake can be very unpredictable at times, the weather can change quickly,” she says. “The conditions can be smooth on one side, rough on the other. Our lake can be very shallow in some places and then just drop off.”

When someone calls 911 in distress at Lake Waccamaw, it takes them around 11 minutes to get out on the water and respond to the call. They currently don’t have crews patrolling the water, but it’s something that they are working to change. Right now, they’re raising funds to purchase a jet ski to hopefully cut down on that response time.

“That’s what we’re here for, we’re here for the public for their emergencies,” Chief Nance says. “Sometimes they’re non-emergencies, and that’s okay. So call early and you can always cancel us if need be.”

She offers these tips to prevent yourself from a tragedy on the water:

  • Have life jackets for everyone on the boat and wear them.
  • If you’re alone on the lake, let someone know where you’re going and what time you plan to head back.
  • Be on the lookout for each other when you’re in the water and lookout for yourself.
  • If you’re with a group, make sure everyone knows what to do in case of emergency.
  • If you plan to dock at or swim at a private pier, make sure everyone in your group knows the address associated with the pier incase dispatchers need to reach you.
  • Don’t hesitate to call if you’re struggling on the lake.

In the case of the 33-year-old man drowning this weekend, he was not wearing a life vest.

“So please, everybody come enjoy our lake,” Chief Nance says. “But please be safe doing so.”

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