Two young teenage brothers were pulled out of an Albany Motel pool last Sunday afternoon. They both died.
A 13-year-old boy drowned last week in the Ocmulgee River in Telfair County.
In July, an 18-year-old man drowned while swimming in the Withlacoochee River in Lowndes County.
That same month, two Wilcox County youngsters drowned in a residential pool.
Just days later, a man drowned while boating in the Flint River.
In June, two people in Albany drowned: a 76-year-old woman in her swimming pool, and a young boy who climbed a fence to swim in a neighbor’s pool.
That brings the death toll to at least eight people in our area who have drowned this summer.
These tragedies point out the need for people to be sure that they are good swimmers before they ever get in the water — and for people not to get into the water alone. A good swimmer needs to be with you, watching out for problems.
Most YMCAs offer learn-to-swim programs, as do some city recreation departments. Parents have a responsibility to make sure their children can handle themselves in the water. And even if you’re an adult who thinks he’s an accomplished swimmer, always have a swim buddy.
Don’t cause needless tragedy for your family and loved ones … stay out of the water unless you are prepared and the conditions are right for safe swimming.
Georgia Power should
change heat policy
We’re still in the middle of a sizzling summer in south Georgia. The heat index has often topped 110 degrees. That can be a health hazard, especially to older people, and especially to those who don’t have air conditioning.
That’s why most utility companies have heat policies to prevent cutoffs when it’s dangerously hot. But the policy at the state’s largest utility company needs to be changed. The Public Service Commission mandates the policy for Georgia Power. It states that Georgia Power can’t disconnect your electricity on a day during which by 8 a.m. the National Weather Service issues a Heat Advisory or Excessive Heat Warning for your county.
Those must be issued when the heat index is forecast to be 110 degrees, but the weather service can issue them at a lower heat index.
Meet Walter Henderson. His 84-year old mother lives with him in Worth County. Georgia Power cut off their electricity in the middle of a severe heat wave. There was a heat advisory the day before the cutoff and the day after the cutoff.
The day the Hendersons’ electricity was disconnected, the heat index was forecast to reach 109 degrees, one degree shy of a mandatory heat advisory.
Customers need to pay their bills on time. If you can’t pay, you need to notify your utility early on. They’ll usually work out a payment plan or put in touch with agencies that can help. You can even find those agencies at walb.com.
Georgia Power did that with the Hendersons. We understand power companies often have no choice but to disconnect customers, but it shouldn’t be done during extreme weather conditions.
Even though Georgia Power followed the state policy in this case, an elderly woman’s health was put in jeopardy. The Albany Water Gas and Light Commission has a more sensible policy. They won’t cut you off if the heat index is expected to exceed 100-degrees. A safety policy that doesn’t really keep you safe doesn’t make much sense. It’s time for the Public Service Commission to use some common sense and reconsider their rules.
Written by Jim Wilcox, general manager of WALB.