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Posted 5/19/2015

Release no. PA-2015-28

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Memorial Day weekend is going to be busy this year. With large crowds of people gathering at the lakes, the potential for drowning and accidents increase. Before you head out for a day on or near the water, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers encourages our visitors to expect the unexpected and think about these four safety tips for Memorial Day and the summer season.

·         Wear a life jacket.

o    Statistics show that 90 percent of those who drown at USACE lakes and rivers may have survived if they had worn a life jacket.
o    Drowning is the nation’s second leading cause of accidental death.
o    Expect the unexpected. Accidents happen, even to responsible boaters. A life jacket can provide time for rescue.

·         Know your swimming ability.

o    Swimming in open water is more difficult than in a swimming pool because a swimmer can tire more quickly and get into trouble.
o    Conditions can change quickly in open water.
o    Swim in designated areas and wear a life jacket. A life jacket will help conserve energy and provide flotation.

·                     Avoid exhaust fumes around boats.

                         o    Carbon monoxide, an invisible killer, can accumulate anywhere in or around boats regardless of what type
                               of boat. Install and maintain carbon monoxide detectors on and inside your boat.  Maintain a fresh circulation of
                               air through and around your boat at all times.  
                         o    Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include eye irritation, headache, nausea, weakness and dizziness.
                               Know the signs and stay alive. 
                         o    Avoid areas around boats where exhaust fumes may be present. Do not let friends swim under or around the
                               boarding platform where fumes can accumulate.

·                     Be a “Water Watcher.”

                         o    When on or near the water watch your children.
                         o    A child can drown in 20 seconds.
                         o    Drowning happens quickly and quietly. A drowning victim’s head will be back, they will be gasping for air, they will
                               not be yelling, and their arms will be slapping the water as though trying to climb out of the water. 

On average, nine out of 10 people who drowned at a Corps of Engineers lake project didn’t wear a life jacket. Life jackets save lives by keeping you afloat and providing time for rescue.

Most people who drown never intended to be in the water; they unexpectedly fell from a boat or dock into the water. When this happens, a person will reflexively gasp and can inhale up to one liter of water and drown in less than a minute. For more water safety information please visit http://watersafety.usace.army.mil/.  Be safe this holiday weekend.




Kansas City District US Army Corps of Engineers water safety