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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
St. Paul District
Public Affairs Office
180 5th St. E., Suite 700
St. Paul, MN 55101
Phone: (651) 290-5807
Fax: (651) 290-5752
cemvp-pa@usace.army.mil 

Play it safe while enjoying America’s waterways

Published May 23, 2017
A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers park ranger takes a camper on a boat ride. They are both playing it safe and wearing their personal flotation device.

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers park ranger takes a camper on a boat ride. They are both playing it safe and wearing their personal flotation device.

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Before you head out for a day on or near the water, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, encourages you to make sure you have life jackets for everyone and that you wear them.

In the last 10 years, 88 percent of all public water-related fatalities at Corps of Engineers facilities were men and 68 percent were between the ages of 20 and 60, according to the Corps’ National Operations Center for Water Safety. The center reports that 84 percent of all public water-related fatalities involved people not wearing life jackets and the greatest number of water-related fatalities involved people swimming in areas not designated for swimming. In addition, 27 percent of boating fatalities involved people falling overboard. 

Several people who drown never intended to be in the water. They unexpectedly fell from a boat or dock. When this happens, a person will reflexively gasp and can potentially inhale up to one liter of water and drown in less than a minute.

Even a strong swimmer can drown from a fall into cold water, because it causes an involuntary gasp (or torso) reflex. A life jacket can help save your life by allowing time for rescue. Some researchers believe cold water is anything lower than normal body temperature of 98.6°F. 

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 average of 60 seconds for an adult to drown and 20 seconds for a child 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.  Many shorelines at our facilities have drop offs, and you can be in water over your head instantly or pulled under by the current. Most people drowned within 10 feet of safety.

Always wear the right size and type of life jacket for the activity you are enjoying. Life Jackets Worn…Nobody Mourns. Learn more at PleaseWearIt.com.

The nearly 600 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, employees working at more than 40 sites in five upper-Midwest states serve the American public in the areas of environmental enhancement, navigation, flood damage reduction, water and wetlands regulation, recreation sites and disaster response. Through the St. Paul District Fiscal Year 2016 $78 million budget, nearly 1,250 non-Corps jobs were added to the regional economy as well as $120 million to the national economy. For more information, see www.mvp.usace.army.mil.

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Release no. 17-043