REND LAKE, IL (KFVS) - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Rend Lake offers tips to be safe when on, or around the water this Memorial Day weekend.
According to the Corps, drowning remains the number one cause of death in recreational boating accidents. Most of the victims were not wearing their life jackets.
Here are some tips from the Corps of Engineers to help recreation seekers stay safe around the water over the Memorial Day holiday weekend and into the summer.
Today's Life Jackets
Gone are the days of bulky orange "horse collar" life jackets. Modern life jackets are available in a wide variety of compact, lightweight, and attractive styles suitable for constant wear. Many are partially or wholly inflatable, and resemble suspenders or even a belt pack. Special varieties are made for anglers, hunters, skiers, and other sports enthusiasts. "If you think about it, a modern life jacket is a lot less restrictive than the automobile lap and shoulder belt most of us wear without a second thought," says Kevin Curran, Operations Manager at Rend Lake. "After a few minutes you forget you're wearing one," said Curran. "But if you happen to be involved in a boating accident, you'll be very glad it's on."
Alcohol and water don't mix
Many drowning fatalities involve alcohol; even one beer can impair balance, vision, judgment, and reaction time. Research shows that four hours of boating, exposure to noise, vibration, sun, glare, and wind produces fatigue that simulates drunkenness. Boating fatigue combined with alcohol consumption intensifies the effects of both and increases accident risks.
Boaters should take appropriate safety classes, be familiar with governing federal and state laws and have proper safety equipment onboard before boating. Many states require boater education or boat operator licenses. As an added incentive, some insurance companies offer discounts to boaters who have successfully completed a boating safety course.
At U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sites, swimming in non-designated areas causes 47 percent of all water-related fatalities nationwide. Don't take chances by over-estimating your swimming skills, and swim only in designated swimming areas. Never swim alone.
Watch your children at all times when around the water. Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for those 1-14 years of age and the third leading cause for those less than one and ages 15-24, according to the Center for Disease Control.
Never dive into lakes and rivers. Never rely on toys such as inner tubes and water wings to stay afloat. Reach or throw a floatation device to help someone in trouble and never approach them in the water unless you are a trained life guard.
If you have further questions about staying safe around the water feel free to contact the Rend Lake Project Office and Visitor Center at 618-724-2493. Like their Facebook page at Rend Lake Project Office/Visitor Center, to get updated fishing reports, a schedule of summer activities and more