Corps encourages boaters and swimmers: wear life jackets, watch for low-water hazards

Published May 23, 2014
Safe-boating buddies head out on their personal watercraft at Pine Flat Lake near Piedra, Calif., May 3, 2014.

Safe-boating buddies head out on their personal watercraft at Pine Flat Lake near Piedra, Calif., May 3, 2014.

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — This Memorial Day, before you head out for an adventure on or near the water, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District encourages you to make sure you have properly-fitting life jackets for everyone and that you watch for hazards caused by low water levels.

Sad statistics tell the story: 9 out of 10 people who drowned at a Corps of Engineers lake or river park didn’t wear a life jacket.

“Modern life jackets are very effective and easy to wear,” said Col. Mike Farrell, Sacramento District commander. “My family and I treasure the time we spend around our lakes; using life jackets is a simple way to make sure we’re all safe.”

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 be gone within seconds. It takes an adult as little as 60 seconds to drown and a child can drown in as little as 20 seconds.

Swim at a designated swim beach. These areas have been inspected to provide a safe swimming environment. Many shorelines at Corps of Engineers lakes have drop offs and you can be in water over your head instantly or pulled under by the current.

“Loaner life jacket kiosks are located at all our district lakes and we encourage folks to make use of these jackets for free during their visit to the water,” said Jonathan Friedman, senior district park ranger for the Sacramento District.

“And be aware of lower water levels in your favorite lakes – don’t assume conditions are just like previous years,” said Friedman. “Rock outcroppings, tree snags and unexpected shallows can be dangerous – so check out local conditions thoroughly before boating or swimming.”

For more information on recreation in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District, visit:

Robert Kidd

Release no. 14-026