Water Safety Tips for 4th of July Weekend

USACE Lake Shelbyville Project
Published June 30, 2022
Updated: June 30, 2022

Lake Shelbyville– Warmer weather is here, and July is the busiest time of year on our nation’s waterways, so keep in mind the importance of safety and please wear your life jacket and engine cutoff switch at all times while on the water. Always boat sober and operate your vessel in a safety and friendly manner. 4th of July is right around the corner. If you are new to Lake Shelbyville or are a returning user here are some tips that will help you and your family enjoy a safe and fun days on the water during this busy holiday weekend and the rest of the summer season.

People of all ages are strongly encouraged to practice water safety this summer. 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 while swimming to retrieve boats and toys. Let those go because they are not worth losing your life over. 
  • Alcohol and water are a deadly combination – 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.

Lake Shelbyville Dam West, Sullivan, and Wilborn Creek beaches are open to the public. The beaches are open daily from 8:00 AM until sunset. Please follow the beach rules below when you spend a day at our beach.  

Beach Rules

  • Swimming is only allowed within the designated swim area (yellow buoys)
  • Use the buddy system – don’t swim alone
  • No diving
  • Adults should accompany all children
  • ALCOHOL IS PROHIBITED within the entire recreation area to include but not limited to; parking lot, grass area, and sand area.
  • No food or drinks on the sand or in the water
  • No pets on the sand or in the water
  • Pick up your TRASH!

If headed out on your boat, have realistic expectations, knowing the lake will be busy and boat ramps may be crowded.

  • Review the rules of the road for boating- Refresh your memory.
  • Expect crowds at launch ramp, ramp can get chaotic with moving boats, trailers, and pedestrians - get boat ready in parking lot before heading to ramp. Give each other the time they need to launch. Don’t tie up at the courtesy dock for long periods of time.
  • Always maintain safe speed and familiarize yourself with Boat Regulatory Buoys (NO WAKE, NO BOATS) – Especially around boat ramps, marinas, beaches, and no wake coves.
  • Keep a proper lookout at all times – Whether you’re towing a water skier, tuber, or see a kayak or someone fishing. Be aware of other boaters, swimmers, and hazards.
  • Recreate responsibly- This may not be your first trip, but it may be for someone else. Other boaters may not know as much as you do.
  • Appropriately sized and U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets for everyone on board- Children 12 and under must always wear a life jacket while on a moving vessel.
  • Lake Shelbyville has a site-specific Boat Rafting Policy- Up to five boats are allowed in a raft without requiring a special use permit. No more than 50 people will be allowed on any raft of boats that consist of 5 boats or less. The required distance between each raft is 150 feet.

A fee of $5.00 per vehicle per day is charged at all U.S. Army Corps of Engineers beaches and primary boat ramps. No fees are charged for those displaying their registered Corps camp tag, America the Beautiful Pass or Corps Annual Day Use Pass.

For additional information on Lake Shelbyville please look for us on Facebook (Lake Shelbyville, USACE), Instagram or visit https://www.mvs.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/Lake-Shelbyville



Ashley Florey
1989 State HWY 16, Shelbyville, IL 62565

Release no. 22-060