VIRGINIA

Potomac River safety preached by National Park Service

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With the beginning of recreational boating, kayaking and hiking season arriving, the National Park Service is trying to spread the word about water safety on the Potomac River.

However, one new trend which has thrill seekers buzzing has emergency workers very concerned, and they're warning people that jumping off cliffs comes with incredible hazard and stiff penalties.

Officials warn jumpers, especially ones who film themselves jumping off cliffs near Great Falls, that they're risking their lives and a $500 fine if caught.

"To jump from a 50-foot cliff and not know what's under the water is dangerous, and it can kill," National Park Service official Jon James said.

That's not the only hazard, either. Officials say rock climbing, hiking accidents or even boats capsizing can cause dangers for the most experienced of outdoor enthusiasts. The water in the Potomac can be deceptive - it looks calm, but it can be rough when you get on it.

Great Falls resident Betsy Train knows that all too well; her husband survived after his canoe capsized last April.

"He held on for two-and-a-half hours, waiting," she said. "The plane went over but didn't see him."

Overall, officials say that the rapids near Great Falls are some of the most dangerous in the world, so recreating this summer should be done with extreme caution.

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