Dangers Below: Swimming safety on Smith Lake

Melissa Crabtree/CBS42

[lin_video src=http://eplayer.clipsyndicate.com/embed/player.js?aspect_ratio=16×9&auto_next=1&auto_start=0&div_id=videoplayer-1372801522&height=480&page_count=5&pf_id=9624&show_title=1&va_id=4125155&width=640&windows=2 service=syndicaster width=640 height=480 div_id=videoplayer-1372801522 type=script]CULLMAN, Ala. (WIAT) — When temperatures are rising, many people are cooling down in and around the water.

However, the Alabama Marine Police warn swimmers against the dangers underneath the water.

Officer John Williams says Smith Lake which covers three counties, Walker, Cullman and Winston will be packed with thousands of visitors this week.

He says divers need to know what they are diving into first.  There are hidden rocks and tree limbs below the surface.

Williams says, “If you land on your stomach or you back maybe knock yourself unconscious for a minute. If you don’t have a life jacket on it’s pretty much one hundred percent you’re going down . You’re going to the bottom.”

Divers can hit their heads, knocking them unconscious.

Continue to check the area underneath the water, although there is no current in the lake.

Williams says boats and other watercrafts can move things around underwater.

Swimmers need to have a flotation device on at all times.

Dad Brad Ford was out on the lake Tuesday with his family, he says they love to go wake boarding but he insists they put their vests on.

Ford, “Very important. I don’t let them get in without it. I don’t let them get in without it.”

Williams says if you start to go under, someone trying to save you will not be able to support your weight without being dragged underwater also.

Rescue workers say many times they have recovered victims who thought they could swim much farther than they were able to, mostly because they didn’t realize how tired they had become.

The sun can zap your energy causing muscle cramps, and without any warning you can quickly go under.

Lakes are also known to have unexpected changes in depths.

This can catch some swimmers off guard. If they are already fatigued they may not be able to make it back to solid ground.

Copyright 2013 WIAT-TV CBS 42

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