Experts can't find correlation between water levels, drowning incidents

Numbers remain steady

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While Thurmond Lake waters rise and fall, the number of drownings have remained fairly steady in recent years.

Despite some theories that visitors tread in deeper, more unpredictable waters when the lake drops far below full pool, drownings don’t go up as the water drops, said Billy Birdwell, the spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Savannah District.

From 2003 through July, the reservoir averaged 2.5 drownings annually, according to data provided by the Corps, which controls Thur­mond Lake.

Drownings are so few that it is difficult to analyze data for constant variables, Birdwell said.

“We want to find a correlation. We want to know what triggers a drowning,” he said.

Capt. Mark Padgett, a regional supervisor for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ law enforcement division, said it’s difficult to say whether any one factor contributes to higher drowning rates.

“There are some dangers with low water, but it all goes back to common sense,” Padgett said.

During several recent years of drought, low water levels left shorelines exposed, boat ramps unusable and man-made beaches unattractive to visitors. This year, above-average rainfall patterns brought the reservoir back to full pool of 330 feet above sea level.

Two drownings have occurred at Thurmond Lake in 2013. Over the past 10 years, drownings peaked at five in 2008, when water levels were low.

However, water levels remained low for most of 2009, when only one drowning occurred. In 2012, another year for low water levels, there were two drownings.

The Corps has studied drowning reports for variables including age, gender, ethnicity, time of day and time of year, Birdwell said. Drownings are as likely to occur in February as in July, he said.

When considering age and gender, the greatest number of drownings involve men ages 18 to 45, but Birdwell said that does not consider whether more men in that age bracket visit the lake.

Across Georgia, drowning numbers have been fairly constant in the past 10 years, Padgett said. Georgia waters claim between 40 to 50 lives from drowning each year.

“Thus far, we’ve had about 21 for the year and the water’s as high as it’s ever been,” he said.

Padgett and Birdwell said the best safeguard against drowning is practicing water safety. Wearing a lifejacket and monitoring alcohol consumption can save lives, they said.

THURMOND LAKE DROWNINGS
YearDrownings
20132
20122
20112
20103
20091
20085
20073
20062
20052
20043
20033

Source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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Pops
10905
Points
Pops 08/10/13 - 06:53 pm
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1
It's kind'a of a combination

of a couple of factors......alcohol.....showing off....non athletic people....alcohol.....

Little Lamb
47261
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Little Lamb 08/10/13 - 09:27 pm
3
1
Dihydrogen Monoxide

I would say that water in the lungs was a big factor.

Young Fred
18262
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Young Fred 08/11/13 - 04:28 am
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1
water in the lungs a big factor

Now that is high comedy!

...of course it's not funny.

Water is a strange medium, if you fight it many times you'll lose; if you relax and take it easy you can travel great distances.

nocnoc
45434
Points
nocnoc 08/11/13 - 08:38 am
2
0
Let me be so bold as to suggest - Water is the case

“We want to find a correlation. We want to know what triggers a drowning.”

Here some of the rumors I can remember hearing growing up and using Clark Hill, since I 1st swam in it as a child back around 1961-2.

*Giant Catfish, Giant eels, turtles are grabbing people and pulling them down?
*When the Dam gates open, it creates and undertow current.
*Bull sharks got trapped above the dam when it was build.
*Rotted out Tree Stumps create void pockets that act like spot vacuums or trapping holes when the stepped on.

There are others but they require a double head wrap of tin foil.

nocnoc
45434
Points
nocnoc 08/11/13 - 08:39 am
2
0
Seriously though

I had a fellow 7th grade classmate from Gracewood Elm. named Bill Townsend drown up there in the early 1970's.

I was told by friends there, he was walking in the water and talking 1 second and gone the next.

We were told, he was found in a small underwater hole / void that was likely created by a rotted stump.

soapy_725
43817
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soapy_725 08/11/13 - 10:22 am
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Let's do a $3 million dollar study on human stupidity. Why?Why?
Unpublished

Let's do a $3 million dollar study on human stupidity. Why?Why?

soapy_725
43817
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soapy_725 08/11/13 - 10:23 am
0
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Simply review the AC. "Not knowing one's limitations in water"
Unpublished

Simply review the AC. "Not knowing one's limitations in water"

soapy_725
43817
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soapy_725 08/11/13 - 10:24 am
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Sort of like the rest of human life. Failure to obey the rules.
Unpublished

Sort of like the rest of human life. Failure to obey the rules.

soapy_725
43817
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soapy_725 08/11/13 - 10:25 am
0
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Amigo. La aqua es bein. Let's swim from GA to South Carolina.
Unpublished

Amigo. La aqua es bein. Let's swim from GA to South Carolina.

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