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Excercising Safety on the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers

Officials say because of the recent tragedies more emergency services staff will be on stand by, especially on the weekends.

JEFFERSON COUNTYWV- Since the Fourth of July, three people have drowned in the Potomacand Shenandoah rivers in the four-state region. Now, officials are urging river enthusiasts to exercise precautionary measures so there won't be anymore drowning victims this year.

The Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers are some of the most majestic waterways in our country. It's a place where people go for peace and adventure, but this area has seen tragedy over the past few weeks. Officials say those tragedies could have been prevented.

"People just need to keep an eye, and heightened awareness, when they are around the river. A lot of it is inexperience around the river and not wearing a life safety vest," said Ed Hannon, of Jefferson County Emergency Services.

The vest is actually called a personal flotation device, and emergency services officials are imploring and reminding people to wear the PFD when boating or swimming on the rivers.

Ed Smith of the Independent Fire Company says the vest saved a lot of people who encountered river emergencies this summer.

"These rivers are so much stronger than people realize that they take it for granted. They think they are strong swimmers, they get in there, and they are in trouble," said Smith.

But its not just boat activities, emergency service officials are urging anyone 15 feet away from any of the rivers to wear one of the PFDs', especially when it comes to walking along the rocks and fishing.

"They'll cast a line out there; they will catch a fish, and then will walk down by the shore, to pick them up either with a net or something. The rocks along the shoreline are slippery they will slip, fall, or strike their head or any number of things can happen," said Hannon.

After the tragedies, some four-state residents are now taking extra steps to prevent emergencies.

"We both came out here my daughter and I, so we can be both watching the kids and we are making sure that they don't go past the grass into the drop off there, because I have been hearing a lot of accidents in the river lately," said Henne Berger, a Frederick resident.

Officials are also encouraging folks not to go by themselves and instead to go in groups. They say if a river emergency occurs at least someone in the group can help or call 911.

Officials say because of the recent tragedies more emergency services staff will be on stand by, especially on the weekends.

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