Have a Safe Labor Day Weekend!

    Labor Day traditionally marks the final weekend of the summer recreation season. Many people will be spending time on the water this holiday weekend, and the Corps of Engineers encourages everyone to think safety first.As the nation’s largest federal provider of water-based outdoor recreation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provides its visitors a wide range of diverse and dynamic recreational opportunities, and the safety of these visitors is the Corps’ highest priority.

Each year about 6,000 drowning-related deaths occur in the U.S. In fact, drowning is a leading cause of accidental death for children. In other cases, drowning occurs because people underestimate the power of the water and over-estimate their swimming ability. But it is possible — just by wearing a life jacket or taking other precautions — to prevent these deaths.

   Shreda Gorum, Huntington District water safety advocate, encourages those planning to enjoy water-related activities this summer to act as water safety ambassadors. “The Corps of Engineers welcomes visitors from all walks of life to enjoy our beautiful lakes,” Gorum said. “We’re urging everyone to wear life jackets when on the water and encourage others to follow your lead. You might just save a life.”

   According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 70 percent of boating-related fatalities involve boat operators who had not received any boating safety instruction. Of the 709 recreational boating fatalities in 2008, more than 89 percent of those victims were not wearing life jackets.

   To promote the importance of wearing life jackets, a number of Huntington District lakes have established life jacket loaner boards. Visitors can borrow a life jacket while participating in water activities and then simply return the life jacket to the loaner station when finished.

   But there’s more to being safe on the water than just wearing a life jacket. Three years ago, the Huntington District issued a ban on cliff diving/jumping at Corps-managed lakes located within the Huntington District, and this ban remains in effect. Cliff jumping/diving is a reckless and potentially dangerous activity that has always been strongly discouraged on Huntington District lakes.

   Here are some safety tips from the Corps of Engineers to keep our visitors safe at our recreation areas over the Memorial Day holiday weekend and through the summer months.

   Watch your children  Research shows it only takes a child an average of 20 seconds to drown. Don’t let children wander very far from adults and never let them go into the water without adult supervison.


   Alcohol and water activities don’t mix Approximately one-third of all boating accidents and fatalities involve alcohol. Drinking just one beer could impair balance, vision, judgment and reaction time. Combine alcohol consumption with boating fatigue – exposure to noise, vibration, sun, glare and wind – and the risk for boating accidents is significantly intensified. 

Boaters should know the rules Take appropriate safety classes, be familiar with governing state laws and have proper safety equipment onboard. Wear a life jacket, don’t just carry one on board. Don’t overload the boat. File a float plan with a friend. 

Respect the power of water Surprisingly, two-thirds of drowning victims never intended to be in the water. This is especially true in cases of people accidentally falling out of their boats while fishing. If someone is in trouble, reach or throw a floatation device – don’t go in the water. Don’t over-estimate your swimming skills. Swim only in designated swimming areas. Half of all drowning victims are alone when they drown, so use the buddy system. Take swimming lessons and learn to swim!An estimated 360 million people visit U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recreation areas nationwide annually, and our District hosts more than 30 million visitors at our recreation areas. We urge you to make water safety your top priority when using the nation’s waterways and lakes. The life you save may be your own.

For more safety tips and interactive games, visit our water safety website at

http://watersafety.usace.army.mil  or contact the Public Affairs Office at 304-399-5353.

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