0

Park program aims to keep patrons safe

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

Managers of a tri-county park that is partially located in Henry County, are working to alleviate the potential for patrons to get lost in the great outdoors.

Panola Mountain State Park, at 2600 Ga. Highway 155 S.W., in Stockbridge, will host a free Lost Person Prevention program, on the second Saturday of each month in 2011, at 10 a.m. The first installment of the endeavor is scheduled for Jan 8.

The park, which has been open since 1974, is composed of 1,635-acres, situated in Henry, DeKalb and Rockdale counties.

Assistant Park Manager Ross Turnmire said the Lost Person Prevention program is part of the park's mission to educate the public. It is

designed mainly as a precautionary tool, to ensure visitors' safety, according to Turnmire.

"I've been at the park for a year, and we haven't really had a problem with it at all," he said. "This was just a program we wanted to implement to help people be more prepared with their time outdoors."

Program instructors explain techniques to prevent losing someone in the park, and how to get home safely if a person does get lost, said Turnmire. He said people who go to a park for recreation, should adhere to security measures for their excursion.

"When you're in a hiking situation, maintain the trail that's been laid out," he said. "Have a plan before you go, so you'll be prepared for what you're wanting to do."

Turnmire added that outdoor enthusiasts should plan ahead, by packing an emergency whistle and blanket, and by posting their itinerary on the dashboard of their vehicle.

For those who do get lost, the assistant park manager said the most important tip to remember is to "stay put where you're at," in order to be found.

A search-and-rescue dog team will be on hand for the Lost Person Prevention course, which will be held at the park's nature center. Advance registration is required, and parking costs $5.

For more information, call the park at (770) 389-7801.