KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Water is one of the premier destinations for Memorial Day weekend and with that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District’s 18 lakes see a huge increase in visitors. We value the safety of our visitors and want each and every individual to have a safe and enjoyable experience this holiday weekend and encourage everyone to think about these five recreation safety tips this Memorial Day weekend:
- Life jackets save lives.
- Nearly 90% of people who drown at Corps lakes are not wearing life jackets.
- 85% of all boating-related fatalities were not wearing a life jacket.
- Life jackets help the wearer conserve energy and provide floatation.
- Expect the unexpected.
- Conditions can change quickly in open water.
- Most people who drown never intended to be in the water.
- Plan for the known and the unknown.
- Know your ability and current lake and facility conditions.
- Swimming in open water is more difficult than in a swimming pool.
- Many beach facilities are closed due to 2019 flood damage and the COVID-19 pandemic. Please exercise extreme caution if you choose to swim in non-designated areas, and never swim around boat ramps, dam/outlet structures, marinas or other hazardous areas.
- Avoid jumping from bridges or cliffs into the water. Submerged objects or shallow water can cause serious injury or death.
- Make sure the size of your vessel is appropriate for the body of water and current or future weather conditions.
- Double check your boat capacity and don’t overload your vessel.
- Make sure your boat is prepared.
- Check to make sure all of the state required safety items are on board and recheck that they work.
- Ensure there are enough accessible life jackets for everyone onboard and make sure that they function and fit each person.
- Check your engine, ventilation, backfire flame arrestor, electrical systems and trailer before you go. Take advantage of free vessel safety checks offered in your area by boating-related agencies.
- Remember to maintain social distancing
- Wear Personal Protective Equipment such as masks, gloves, etc.
- Try to avoid crowded areas, including large groups of boats or swimmers, overly crowded boat ramps, or other busy day-use facilities.
- Be aware that there may be fewer restroom facilities available for public use.
- Practice good hygiene measures such as proper handwashing, coughing into your elbow, etc.
As a reminder, the Kansas City District will reopen some recreation areas and campsites at Stockton and Pomme de Terre lakes for the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The Corps will honor reservations previously made in these areas and a Corps staff member will be contacting customers regarding reservations. These areas will not be open for walk-in camping. A portion of campsites will remain closed to reduce capacity in the parks. Some campgrounds will open before others with most lakes in the Kansas City District beginning a phased reopening on June 1, 2020.
Customers transitioning back into park areas can expect to see some changes. Campground reservations and payments must be made online at www.recreation.gov. To protect the staff and visitors, no cash or checks will be collected onsite. Campers are encouraged to have self-contained camping units to reduce the amount of traffic and congestion at park facilities. Some non-reservable campsites and/or parks will remain closed. Visitor centers, playgrounds, shelters and swim beaches may reopen once local guidelines and conditions allow. Most boat ramps, trails and day use areas will remain open.
A complete list of Kansas City District recreation area status updates can be found online at: www.nwk.usace.army.mil/Locations/District-Lakes/Recreation-Area-Status.
In addition, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has suspended the collection of day use fees until Oct. 1, 2020. These suspended fees apply to all beach and boat ramp fees within the Kansas City District. For those who have previously purchased annual passes for the year, the Kansas City District is extending the expiration date of annual passes by seven months.
Social distancing and other restrictions required by local, state and federal authorities to include the Centers for Disease Control will be in place. Current guidance provided by the CDC can be found online at www.cdc.gov. If these restrictions cannot be followed, recreation areas could be forced to close again.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the nation’s largest provider of water-based outdoor recreation with 90 percent of these recreation areas within 50 miles of metropolitan areas. The Corps provides a diverse range of outdoor activities close to home and to people of all ages. We value the safety of our visitors and want each and every individual to have a safe and enjoyable experience this holiday weekend. For more information on water safety visit www.pleasewearit.com.
Release no. 20-018