LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – During this Memorial Day weekend Army Corps of Engineers officials want lake visitors to be safe when on or near the water.
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.
Most people who drown never intended to be in the water; they unexpectedly fell from a boat or dock into the water. When this happens, a person will reflexively gasp and can inhale up to one liter of water and drown in less than a minute.
Others get into trouble swimming out to retrieve a boat that floated away, or swimming in association with a boat. Swimming in natural waters is not the same as swimming in a pool. Even strong swimmers can get into trouble and become submerged within seconds. It takes an adult 60 seconds to drown and a child 20 seconds to drown. Swimming ability also decreases with age.
Swim at a designated swim beach. These areas have been inspected to provide a safe swimming environment. At all Corps of Engineers beaches you swim at your own risk so adults please watch your children, because most people drowned within 10 feet of safety.
Many shorelines at Corps of Engineers lake and river projects have drop offs and you can be in water over your head instantly or pulled under by the current.
If you visit a lake without a life jacket, borrow one from us. Life jacket loaner boards helps ensure park visitors have the chance to safely enjoy water activities. The loaner program has limited quantities of life jackets for children and adults so use it for the day and return it.
Life jackets loaner stations are located at some parks on Beaver, Table Rock, Bull Shoals, Norfork, Clearwater, Greers Ferry, Nimrod, Blue Mountain, Millwood, Dierks, DeQueen, Greeson, Degray, Ouachita, and Gillham lakes. Several Corps parks along the Arkansas River plus the Arkansas Game and Fish boat launch ramp near Verizon Arena also have loaner stations.
Water safety tips and life jacket loaner program information can be found on the Internet at www.swl.usace.army.mil, Facebook at www.facebook.com/littlerockusace, and Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/usacelittlerock.