Corps encourages safe boating during Memorial Day weekend

Published May 22, 2015

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Jacksonville District is reminding boaters to wear life jackets while enjoying time with friends and family over the upcoming holiday weekend.

Most people who drown never intend to be in the water; they unexpectedly fall from a boat or dock into the water. When this happens, a person reflexively gasps and can inhale up to one liter of water and drown in less than a minute according to USACE water safety experts.

“On average, nine out of 10 people who drowned at a USACE lake or river project didn’t wear a life jacket,” said Adam Tarplee, Jacksonville District Natural Resource Program Manager.  “Life jackets save lives by keeping you afloat and providing time for rescue.”

Tarplee encourages boaters to make sure the jacket is sized correctly, and to keep it fastened.

“A child should not be put in a life jacket that is too big for them because it will slip over their head if they fall in the water,” said Tarplee.  “Life jackets are categorized by a person’s weight so check the label and test it to make sure it fits snug.”

Tarplee says others get into trouble swimming out to retrieve a boat that floated away, or swimming in a large body of water.

“Swimming in natural waters isn’t the same as swimming in a pool,” said Tarplee.  “Even strong swimmers can get into trouble and be gone within seconds. It takes an average of 60 seconds for an adult to drown and just 20 seconds for a child to drown.”

The Corps of Engineers manages more than 400 lake and river projects across the nation, hosting more than 370 million visits annually.  More information on USACE recreation sites and activities can be found at the following website:


John Campbell

Release no. 15-055