Enjoy Your Holiday, Play It Safe and Return Home Alive

Published July 2, 2013

Enjoy Your Holiday, Play It Safe and Return Home Alive

Jacksonville - Drowning is a leading cause of accidental death, yet the number of deaths by drowning could be reduced drastically if everyone would wear a life jacket. Statistics show that 89 percent of those who drown at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lakes and rivers may have survived if they had worn a life jacket. Here are some safety tips to help you have a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July holiday.

     Swimming in open water is different and more difficult than in a swimming pool. You can tire more quickly and get into trouble due to waves, current, lack of experience, exhaustion or if your abilities have decreased. You could find yourself in a situation where you are fighting for your life with no chance of survival. Even the best swimmers can misjudge their skills and abilities while swimming in a lake or river. Conditions can change quickly in open water, so before entering the water, please wear a life jacket. While wearing a life jacket, you will not use as much energy, it will help you float, and most importantly, it will help ensure that you return home alive to those who love you. Peer pressure can sometimes kill people but peer pressure can also save lives, so friends should encourage friends to swim in designated areas and wear a life jacket.

    While on or near the water watch your children at all times. It only takes 20 seconds for a child to drown. “Usually people believe that if someone is drowning they will yell for help and that is not the case at all. Several people drown every year within 10 feet of safety because the people around them did not recognize the signs of drowning,” said Pam Doty, National Water Safety Program Manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This is because the four signs of a drowning victim can resemble someone just playing in the water. They include head back, mouth open gasping for air, no yelling or sound, and arms slapping the water like they are trying to climb out of the water. Properly rescuing someone should never include contact with them unless you are a trained lifeguard. Reach out to the victim with something to keep your distance or throw them something that floats to pull them to safety.

    Boaters or those swimming near boats should be aware that carbon monoxide is an odorless, invisible and silent killer. Carbon monoxide can accumulate anywhere in or around your boat, regardless of what type of boat you have. It is heavier than air and lighter than water, so it floats on the water’s surface. Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include eye irritation, headache, nausea, weakness and dizziness. Knowing these signs what to do to prevent them can help you stay alive. Install and maintain carbon monoxide detectors on and inside your boat. Maintain a fresh circulation of air through and around your boat at all times. Avoid areas of your boat where exhaust fumes may be present. Do not let those you love swim under or around the boarding platform because this silent killer could be waiting for them and they will not know it until it is too late. While having fun this 4th of July holiday, remember these tips to help ensure you return home safely to those you love.

    If you need a place to recreate during the holiday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the Nation’s largest provider of outdoor recreation, managing more than 420 lake and river projects in 43 states. To find a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project near you visit www.CorpsLakes.us. To learn more about recreation in the Jacksonville District, visit http://1.usa.gov/1cmNXQK.

     “Safety is always our number one priority,” said Adam Tarplee, natural resource program manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District. “Wear a life jacket anytime you are in, on or around the water this holiday weekend. Since summer is the wet season here in Florida, it’s important to check the weather before heading outdoors and to stay alert. Florida leads the nation in lightning strikes. Did you know that lightning can strike ten to fifteen miles from the center of a thunderstorm where it is raining? If you see a towering storm in the distance and hear thunder, then you are close enough to be struck and should seek shelter indoors immediately. Whether you spend time this holiday weekend on Lake Okeechobee, the Okeechobee Waterway, Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail or our recreation areas at the St. Lucie Lock in Stuart, Ortona Lock in Moore Haven or W.P. Franklin in Alva, we want you have fun and to return home safely.”


Erica Skolte

Release no. 13-045