The US Corps of Army Engineers (USACE) is urging the public to reduce the number of fatalities at the more than 2,800 USACE-managed recreation areas nationwide.
USACE is one of the nation’s leading providers of outdoor recreation with over 400 lake and river projects in 43 states and more than 250 million visits per year.
USACE personnel stress the importance of water safety year-round when talking with visitors, but especially during the summer season because that is when most public recreation fatalities occur.
According to the CDC, every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two will be children aged 14 or younger. Drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death for people of all ages, and the second leading cause of injury death for children ages 1 to 14 years. In fact, more children 1-4 years die from drowning than any other cause of death except birth defects.
USACE recommends before entering or being around the water, keep these five things in mind because they could save your life or the life of someone you care about.
- Expect the unexpected – Accidents can happen within seconds, so always be prepared for the unexpected. If you are ejected from a boat, fall, or jump into water that is colder than 70 degrees you can inhale water from involuntary gasping, hyperventilation, panic, and sometimes vertigo that can cause you to drown. You can also be knocked unconscious if you are ejected from your boat or fall into the water along the shoreline while fishing.
- Wear a life jacket – By providing time to be rescued, it will help ensure you survive an unexpected fall into the water. It can also save your life if you become exhausted due to fatigue, waves, or current while swimming. An adult can drown in 60 seconds and it takes a strong swimmer 10 minutes to put on a life jacket after entering the water. Life Jackets Worn…Nobody Mourns.
- Know your swimming abilities – Be aware that swimming in natural waters such as a lake, river, or pond is different from swimming in a pool, and your swimming ability decreases with age. It is never too late to take swimming lessons and learn to swim well. Several people every year drown swimming to retrieve boats and toys. Let those go because they are not worth losing your life over.
- Alcohol and water are a deadly combo –Alcohol induces an inner ear condition (caloric labyrinthitis) that can cause you to become disoriented when underwater and not realize which way is up. If you jump or fall in the water you can become disoriented and swim down instead of up to safety, causing you to drown. This can more likely happen if you have been consuming alcohol.
- Understand “boater’s hypnosis” –It is a condition brought on by the effects of sun, wind, noise, vibration, and motion experienced during a day of boating. Boater’s hypnosis can slow your reaction time almost as much as if you were legally intoxicated. Adding alcohol to this condition intensifies the effects.