Waterfall Safety

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Few things in the natural world are as awe-inspiring as the sight of water pouring over a high stone ledge and clamoring into a rocky pool beneath. Along with their beauty, however, waterfalls are dangerous and deadly.

In the past three years, there have been nine reported deaths at waterfalls in Transylvania County. Two involved people drowning in waterfall pools, and seven involved people falling.

While all waterfalls are dangerous, the two that have seen the most accidents are Rainbow Falls and Moore Cove Falls.

Rainbow Falls is technically in Pisgah National Forest, but is accessed through Gorges State Park. This majestic cascade is downstream from another smaller waterfall, Turtleback Falls, and the river between the two falls appears deceptively benign. However, the rocks between the two are slippery and treacherous, and, once you have lost your footing, it’s nearly impossible to keep from being dragged over the top of Rainbow Falls. Three people have gone over Rainbow Falls in the last three years; the fall is always fatal.

Moore Cove Falls is a beautiful, tranquil looking cascade in Pisgah National Forest located off U.S. 276. Unfortunately, adventurous visitors are tempted to climb the rocks around the falls, underestimating the danger. Two people have fallen to their deaths at Moore Cove Falls in the last two years.

Please protect yourself and your loved ones during your visit to Transylvania County by following these safety tips.

•Observe all posted signs leading to a waterfall area.
•Stay on developed trails and don’t stray from observation decks and platforms.
•Do not swim or wade upstream near a waterfall.
•Stay back from the edge — the top of the falls is the most dangerous.
•Do not climb on rocks near waterfalls.
•Watch your footing — dry rocks can be just as slippery as wet ones, especially if they are covered in algae. •Wear stable shoes.
•Don’t jump or dive off waterfalls — submerged rocks, trees or debris could be immediately below the surface of the water.
•Don’t swim in waterfall pools.
•Always watch children and pets carefully.
•Stay out of restricted areas.
•Always carry a map of the area.
•Use extreme caution when walking along riverbanks.
•If you find yourself accidentally swimming in fast-moving water, do not try to stand up. Most drowning incidents result from getting a leg or ankle caught in an underwater rock ledge or between boulders. The force of the water will push you over and hold you under.

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