Water Safety

Every day, nearly 10 people drown every day in the United States. (CDC, Water-Related Injuries)


Because most drowning victims had no intention of being in the water, and most people drown within 10 to 30-feet of safety, it is important that you and your family learn to swim. It is also important to follow some simple but crucial guidelines if you are going to be near the water.


Swimming Safety Tips

  • Learn how to swim. Swim in designated swim areas.
  • Swim with others, never by yourself.
  • Watch children closely at all times.
  • Never dive or swim in unknown waters.


Boating Safety Tips

  • Wear a life jacket.
  • Check your boat for all required safety equipment.
  • Take a safe boating course.
  • Check the weather forecast.
  • File a float plan with a friend.
  • Check your electrical and fuel system for gas fumes.
  • Follow manufacturer's suggested procedures before starting up.
  • Carry a navigation chart.
  • Follow the navigation rules of the road.


River Safety

The Chattahoochee River just below Buford Dam is one of the most popular trout fishing spots in the State. However, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cautions visitors to use extreme care when fishing below the Dam. The Chattahoochee can change quickly from a serene slow moving stream to a swift and treacherous river when water is released at Buford Dam. During water release the river can rise up to 11 feet within a matter of minutes.

  • Several safety precautions are in effect for the 3 miles of river between Buford Dam and the GA Highway 20 bridge. Visitors should:
  • Wear a life jacket. This is mandatory for all persons wading, boating or tubes floating on this section of the river.
  • Exit the river immediately when the warning horns sound which indicate water is being released at the dam. (South of the GA Highway 20 bridge, river users cannot hear the warning horns).
  • Listen to radio station 1610 AM for river safety messages and water release schedules.
  • Pay attention to warning signs posted along the riverbanks.
  • Plan trips in advance by calling 770-945-1466 for water release schedules.


Fishermen should also be aware of the effects of hypothermia. Water released at the dam average 44 to 58 degrees year-round. When exposed to these temperatures, exhaustion or unconsciousness can occur in 30 to 60 minutes. Wearing rubber waders is strongly recommended.


See the below table for approximate time for water to arrive after water release from Buford Dam.


Location on River

River Mile

Miles From Dam

Water Travel Time From Dam (hh:mm)

Buford Dam



< 0:15

GA 20 Bridge



0:30 - 1:00

Settles Bridge



0:45 - 1:30

McGinnis Ferry



1:45 - 2:00

Rogers Bridge



2:30 - 3:15

Abbotts Bridge



3:15 - 4:30

Medlock Bridge



3:30 - 4:45

Jones Bridge



3:45 - 6:00

Garrard Landing



5:15 - 7:30

Island Ford



6:30 - 8:45

GA 400 Bridge



8:00 - 11:45


For more information about the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, below Buford Dam, see the National Park Service website: https://www.nps.gov/chat/index.htm