ST. LOUIS – Before heading out for a day of fun on or near the water this upcoming Memorial Day weekend and over the course of the summer, the St. Louis District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers encourages you to play it safe while ensuring everyone in your group has life jackets and more importantly that everyone wears them.
“Our rangers do a great job in educating our visitors about water and boating safety,” Col. Anthony Mitchell, commander of the St. Louis District said. "Boaters should familiarize themselves with state boating regulations and local restrictions, ensure their boat is in good running condition and remember to wear their life jackets."
The St. Louis District is teaming up with boating safety advocates across the U.S. and Canada to promote safe and responsible boating, including consistent life jacket wear every time boaters are on the water, during National Safe Boating Week, held from May 16-22, 2015.
National Safe Boating Week is an annual nationwide event that precedes Memorial Day weekend and is dedicated to raising the awareness of boating safety. The campaign’s theme, “Wear It!” is designed to emphasize the importance of each boater and non-swimmers wearing a life jacket.
On average, 9 out of 10 people who drowned at a Corps of Engineers lake or river project didn’t wear a life jacket. Life jackets save lives by keeping you afloat and providing time for rescue.
The Corps suggests five steps to ensuring a life jacket is a good fit: check the label; check for damage; fasten up the buckles; check for a snug and proper fit; and most importantly, remember to wear it.
Since most drowning victims had no intention of being in water and most people drown within 10-30 feet of safety, it is important that you and your family learn to swim well. Please remember: Never rely on toys such as inner tubes and water wings to stay afloat; don’t overestimate your swimming skills; swim only in designated swimming areas and never swim alone.
Boaters, before getting underway, be sure to know your boat and the rules of the river or lake. Take a safe boating course and check your boat for all required safety equipment. Consider the size of the boat, the number of passengers and the amount of extra equipment you have; if you will be in a power boat, verify the electrical system and fuel system is in good working order. Wear your life jacket – don’t just carry it on board; leave alcohol behind to increase your safety and decrease your risk; check the weather forecast; and file a float plan with a friend or family member.
“Throughout the year hundreds of people drown or die in boating accidents and the majority of the deaths could have been prevented,” said Pam Doty, National Water Safety Program Manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “We want you to come out and enjoy your national lakes and rivers and return home safely, so please wear a life jacket and boat friendly.”
Please make your visit to any recreation area a safe and enjoyable one. Taking water safety precautions saves lives – maybe your own.
The St. Louis District project offices offer on-site water safety programs on weekends during the recreation season. The public is encouraged to call or visit www.mvs.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation.aspx for additional information.
Mark Twain Lake 573-735-4097
Rivers Project Office 636-899-2600
Wappapello Lake 573-222-8562
Carlyle Lake 618-594-2484
Lake Shelbyville 217-774-3951
Kaskaskia River Project 618-284-7160
National Great Rivers Museum 618-462-6979
Rend Lake 618-724-2493
The Corps of Engineers is the Nation’s largest federal provider of water-based outdoor recreation, managing more than 400 lake and river projects in 43 states and hosting more than 370 million visits per year. With 90 percent of these recreation areas within 50 miles of metropolitan areas they provide a diverse range of outdoor activities close to home and to people of all ages. For more information on Corps recreation sites and activities, visit www.CorpsLakes.us.