LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Officials with the Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District, which covers most of Arkansas and southern Missouri, are asking everyone to practice good water safety habits this Labor Day weekend to help ensure the holiday isn’t ruined by needless injuries or death.
“Whether you’re spending a day at the lake or your own swimming pool, water safety is critical,” said Little Rock District Commander Col. Courtney W. Paul. “It may seem like overkill to some, but simply following a step-by-step process or checklist can significantly reduce your risk of a water-related accident.”
According to the Center for Disease Control, each year more than 3,400 people drown in the United States. Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental deaths for persons 1-14 years of age and the sixth leading cause for all ages.
Five steps to reduce the risk of a water-related accident.
1. Check the weather. Forecasts can change. Keep checking.
2. Avoid alcoholic beverages or have a sober boat or vehicle operator.
3. Supervise children every second. Keep them within reach.
4. Use the buddy system. Always swim with someone.
5. Always wear a life jacket.
“Wearing a life jacket is the best defense against drowning,” Paul said. “Of the more than 150 Americans who drown every
year at Corps parks, on average, about 89 percent were not wearing a life jacket.”
The Corps’ National Water Safety Program website refers to alcohol as “The Fun Killer,” stating “it’s a fact; alcohol and water do not mix! More than half of all the people that are injured in a boating accident had consumed alcohol prior to their accident and 20 percent of them don’t live to tell about it.”
Corps officials would also like to remind visitors that if they forget their life jacket or need to borrow one, many of the Corps’ parks offer a life jacket loaner station. All you have to do is borrow the life jacket for the day and return it when you’re finished.
Little Rock District offers public parks at 12 lakes in Arkansas and Missouri and all along the Arkansas River in Arkansas. Among the lakes are Beaver, Blue Mountain, Bull Shoals, Clearwater, DeQueen, Dierks, Gillham, Greers Ferry, Millwood, Nimrod, Norfork, and Table Rock.
A complete list of life jacket loaner stations and additional water safety information can be found on the Corps’ website at www.swl.usace.army.mil.