ST. PAUL, Minn. --
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, wants to remind the public to practice water safety near its locks and dams this Labor Day weekend. With the unofficial ‘last’ weekend for water recreation this summer, Corps officials want to avoid water-related deaths or injuries.
Each year, approximately 6,000 people drown in the United States. In fact, drowning is a leading cause of accidental death for children. Yet, it is possible – just by wearing a life jacket or taking other precautions – to reduce these deaths.
If you are near one of our dams, please be extremely cautious and avoid the restricted areas. Last month, recreational boaters were seen swimming within the 600-foot restricted area and 10 feet upstream of the dam at Lock and Dam 2, near Hastings, Minnesota. The swimmers were unharmed, but the situation could have been fatal under different circumstances.
Here are some safety tips to help ensure your next time on the water is a safe one:
Boaters should know the rules
Boaters should take appropriate safety classes, be familiar with the governing state laws and have proper safety equipment onboard. Many states require boater education or boat operator licenses.
While boating, make sure you wear a life jacket. It’s not enough to just carry one on board. Don’t forget to ensure that the life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard-approved and appropriately sized. Boaters should also recognize and obey restricted area signs. Each dam has a restricted area that extends 600 feet upstream of the dam and 150 feet downstream. The water is extremely turbulent within this area.
If you decide to swim, do so in designated areas only and away from dams and restricted areas. Expect the unexpected. There can be debris under the water surface. If you decide to swim in lakes and rivers, please wear a life jacket. It will help save your life if you become exhausted. On average, a strong swimmer can take as much as 10 minutes to put on their life jacket. Finally, if you decide to swim, please avoid alcohol. Water and alcohol can often be a deadly combination.
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Release no. 21-076