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Authorities: Be safe
Still too cold to go in water, official says
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A boater travels Monday along Lake Lanier. Authorities are urging caution on the lake as water temperatures continue to be cold. - photo by Jim Dean (previous profile)
What turned out to be a false alarm on Lake Lanier early this week has local authorities cautioning the public about water safety.

The Forsyth County Fire Department, sheriff’s office and emergency medical personnel responded Monday to a report of a possible drowning at Tidwell Park in eastern Forsyth County.

Forsyth County Fire Capt. Jason Shivers said a 36-year-old man had fallen off a personal watercraft and was unable to get back on. He was hanging onto the side of the machine and could not be seen from shore.

Shivers said the man, whose identity has not been released, was wearing a life vest. The sheriff’s marine patrol unit brought him safely to shore.

Shivers said the incident was the first water-related report this year on the Forsyth County side of the lake.

While the warm weather may have folks yearning to get out to swim or water ski, Shivers warned against getting in the lake or other bodies of water this early in the year.

“The water is still very, very cold and if you’re not in good enough physical shape to recreate safely, do not be alone,” he said, adding that the buddy system should always be used if possible.

Shivers has warned that cold water can cause a swimmer’s body to go into shock, which leads to cramping and makes it nearly impossible to stay afloat.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources also recommends wearing life vests and joining others while on the water.

In August 2009, one man drowned and another was rescued in the same day on the Forsyth County side of the lake. In both cases, neither man was wearing a life vest.

A child died about two months earlier after being pulled from the bottom of a neighborhood swimming pool.