Army Corps encourages water safety for Labor Day weekend

Published Aug. 28, 2014
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The upcoming holiday weekend is one of the year’s busiest times at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers parks and lakes, and usually sees an increase in accidents on the water. To help keep visitors safe, Corps park rangers offer the following water safety tips.

Before heading out to the water for Labor Day, make sure you have a life jacket for everyone in your group. Nine out of 10 people who drowned at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recreation park were not wearing a life jacket. Check that the life jackets are U.S. Coast Guard approved, the right size and are appropriate for what you have planned. Then make sure everyone wears it. The best life jacket ever created is worthless sitting in the back of your truck.

If the heat gets too intense and you want to take a dip, keep these swimming tips in mind:

- Swim to your abilities. The other side of the lake is much farther than it looks, so don’t even try it.

- Avoid mixing alcohol and water sports. Not only does drinking affect your motor skills and judgment, it also dehydrates you which could lead to cramping at the worst possible time.

- Keep an eye on swimming children. A child can drown in 20 seconds - less than the time it takes to send a text or post a picture. Pay attention to signs your little ones are too cold. Indicators like blue lips and severe shivering mean a drop in their core temperatures, which could lead to hypothermia even in the summer months.

Be aware of exposed objects in the water. Water levels at our lakes are extremely low and expose hazards that typically remain deep down and out of the way. Sandbars, tree stumps and rock formations can cause serious damage to you and your equipment.

"There are rules of the road in boating just like driving a car,” said Jonathan Friedman, Sacramento District senior ranger. "One rule is to only operate at the speed that’s safe for the lake you are enjoying."

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the nation’s largest federal provider of outdoor water-based recreation, managing more than 420 lake and river parks in 43 states and hosting more than 370 million visits per year. For more information on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District recreation sites and activities, visit

Luke Burns

Release no. 14-048