Jacksonville, Fla. (May 27, 2011) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the leading provider of recreation on federally-managed lands in the United States and one of the founding members of the National Water Safety Congress, is committed to promoting water safety practices.
“It is our great fortune to have long periods of mild weather, plenty of sun and many beaches and waterways to enjoy a host of recreational activities,” said Jim Jeffords, chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District Operations Division. “Unfortunately, summer fun can turn to tragedy in an instant, if water safety practices are not used. As a water and natural resources management agency, one of the Corps’ closely-related missions is to actively promote water safety all year round.”
Jacksonville District operates three campgrounds, six boat ramps and three visitor centers around Lake Okeechobee in south Florida, where in 2006, the district has provided loaner life jackets/personal floatation devices at its W.P. Franklin and St. Lucie Recreation Areas. “The loaner life jacket program has been very successful and many are taking advantage of it,” said Adam Tarplee, natural resources program manager.
Additionally, Jacksonville District’s park rangers and volunteers reach thousands of visitors annually with boating and water safety information and visit local schools to teach more than 30,000 elementary school students about water safety. “We are pleased that our combined education and outreach efforts, and our partnerships with a number of local agencies throughout our district, have been effective in promoting water safety,” Tarplee added.
Tarplee said that many drowning victims had no intention of being in the water, and most drown with 10-30 feet of safety. “Remembering and practicing these few simple water safety tips helps to save lives,” Tarplee emphasized.
· Learn to swim well
· Use an appropriate style and fit of personal flotation device, or life jacket
· Watch small children at all times while they are in and around the water
· Take safe boating classes and observe safety and speed guidelines
· Avoid alcohol use while in or on the water
· Never dive into lakes or rivers
· Never swim alone