KANSAS CITY, Mo. — This Memorial Day weekend is usually busy with large crowds of people gathering at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District’s 18 lakes. Before heading out for a day on or near the water, we encourage visitors to expect the unexpected and think about these four safety tips this Memorial Day weekend.
Wear a life jacket.
o Statistics show that 90 percent of those who drown at Corps lakes 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.
Be aware of the dangers of cold water conditions.
o This time of year cold water is an additional risk to those on or near the water. Cold water (less than 70° F) can lower your body temperature, causing hypothermia. Even though the air is warm, many of the lakes in this region have not reached 70 degrees.
o The human body cools 25 times faster in cold water than it does in air. If a person’s body temperature drops too low, they may pass out and then drown.
o Wearing warm clothing and headgear, rain gear to stay dry, and a life jacket can help retain body heat to prevent hypothermia.
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 did not 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://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Recreation/National-Water-Safety_Program/.
Have fun but please be safe this holiday weekend.
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