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Corps of Engineers urges life jacket use
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SAVANNAH—With the summer recreation season officially beginning this Memorial Day weekend, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District reminds the public to always wear a life jacket when boating, swimming or recreating in, on, or near a body of water.

Drowning is the sixth leading cause of unintentional injury death for people of all ages, and the second leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, it is possible to reduce drowning deaths just by wearing a life jacket. Statistics show that 90 percent of those who drown at Corps of Engineers lakes may have survived if they had worn a life jacket.

 “As the leading provider of outdoor recreation on all federally-managed public lands, the Corps of Engineers is dedicated to promoting and educating the public on water safety,” said Col. Jeff Hall, Savannah district commander. “The Savannah district has three of the best recreation areas in the nation along the upper Savannah River — lakes Hartwell, Richard B. Russell and J. Strom Thurmond — in addition to the many Low Country rivers, and the Atlantic Ocean. We want everyone to have fun this summer, but never forget that safety always must be at the forefront of your mind.”

Here are tips from the Corps of Engineers to help stay safe over the Memorial Day weekend and the summer:

Alcohol and water don’t mix

U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that alcohol is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Just 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 and increases accident risk. Make sure the captain or person handling the boat is experienced and competent, and avoids alcohol at all costs.

Wear a life jacket. Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard-approved, appropriately sized for the user, and in good condition. Visit

Coast Guard law now requires life jackets for all children age 12 and younger, unless otherwise specified by state law.