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Posted 5/18/2015

Release no. 15-012

Public Affairs Office
North Atlantic Division

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is the Nation’s largest federal provider of water-based outdoor recreation, managing more than 400 lake and river projects in 43 states and hosting more than 370 million visitors each year.   With 90 percent of recreation areas within 50 miles of metropolitan areas including the North Atlantic region with its lakes, beaches and rivers provide a variety of outdoor activities for people of all ages.

With warmer weather approaching, and the unofficial kick off of summer during Memorial Day weekend, it is expected that outdoor recreation will increase at USACE recreation sites, with many people heading to events and activities near the water. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is teaming up with the National Safe Boating Council and other boating safety advocates across the U.S. to promote safe and responsible boating during National Safe Boating Week May 16-22, 2015

The USACE National Operations Center for Water Safety has provided some boating tips, helpful facts, advice, and reminders about the importance of wearing life jackets:

  • Before casting off for a day on the water, boaters should take appropriate precautions. File a float plan with a friend or family, get a vessel safety check and take a boating safety course. Boaters should also check the weather forecast and make sure everyone onboard is wearing the correct type and fit of life jacket.
  •  Boaters can develop “boater’s hypnosis” a condition in response to sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion, which causes fatigue and slows your reaction time. Combining this condition with alcohol or drugs greatly reduces your coordination, judgment and reaction time, which could lead to deadly consequences so please boat sober.
  • As you head out for a day on or near the water, the USACE reminds everyone that life jackets should be worn by everyone and strongly encouraged.

According to the USACE National Operations Center for Water Safety, nine out of 10 people who drowned were not wearing a life jacket.

  • Life jackets save lives by keeping a person afloat and providing time for rescue.  Life jackets are categorized by a person’s weight, so ensure that you check the life jacket and test it to ensure it fits properly.  Also ensure that it is sized correctly, and that it remains buckled.  A child should not be put in a life jacket that is too large because it could slip over their head and if they fall in the water with an oversized life jacket they could drown. 

Many people who never intended to be in the water have drowned.  They accidently fell from a vessel or from a boat dock into the water.

When a person falls into the water, they reflexively gasp and inhale water.  When this happens an adult is capable of drowning in less than 60 seconds.

People get into dangerous situations by swimming out to retrieve a boat that drifted away, or swam in association with a boat. 

  • Always be aware of the fact that swimming in natural waters is more difficult and different than swimming in a pool.  Even an experienced swimmer can get into danger in natural water in a matter of seconds.

It takes on average only 60 seconds for an adult to drown, and 20 seconds for a child to drown. Swimming ability also decreases with age.

  • When at the water's edge, always remember to swim in a designated area along the shore at a beach. These areas have been inspected to ensure that a safe swimming environment exists. 
  • Remember that at all USACE beaches that 'you swim at your own risk,' therefore adults are strongly urged to be vigilant and to watch their children. 

Most people have drowned within 10 feet of safety. 

Many shorelines at USACE lake and river projects have drop offs and a person can be in peril with water over their head instantly or pulled under by a water current. 

  • Always anticipate the unexpected and wear the correct size and type of life jacket. 
  • Expect the Unexpected and always wear a life jacket.

Click here: For more information

Presidential Proclamation National Safe Boating Week May 16-22, 2015

Army Corps Boating Safety recreation water safety