Before you head out for a day on the lake, make sure you have life jackets for everyone—and wear them.
On average, nine 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 dock or got thrown from a boat into the water. When this happens, a person will reflexively gasp and can inhale up to one liter of water and die in less than a minute.
Swimming in natural waters is not the same as swimming in a pool. Many Corps of Engineers lake and river projects have drop-offs. You can be in water over your head instantly or pulled under by the current.
Even strong swimmers can get into trouble and be gone within seconds. It takes an adult 60 seconds to drown and a child 20 seconds to drown. Swimming ability also decreases with age.
Always swim at a designated swim beach. These areas have been inspected to provide a safer 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.
Expect the unexpected and wear the right fit and type of personal flotation device–nine out of 10 people who drowned, didn’t.
~Tracy Robillard, public affairs specialist
Remembering Scotty Craig
Just one example that hits close to home is the story of Scotty Craig, an avid fisherman who drowned when his boat capsized at J. Strom Thurmond Lake in January 2011. He wasn’t wearing a life jacket. Since his death, his wife Sandie founded a non-profit organization called “Remembering Scotty Craig” to raise awareness of life jackets and promote their use. Sandie’s team has collected more than 470 life vests to donate to life jacket loaner boards around the lake. Watch her powerful story here: