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Navigate Safe Waters this Fourth of July

July 2, 2012
If swimming or boating is on your agenda this Fourth of July, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has some advice to help you play it safe.
Spending this holiday fishing, boating, kayaking or swimming might sound delightful, but don't lose sight of the fact that outdoor recreation also comes with risks. In fact, drowning is the nation's second leading cause of accidental death.

To help you stay safe this Fourth of July and all summer long, USACE offers the following safety tips to help you navigate the waters safely:

Safe water solution: Wear a life jacket. Accidents happen, even to responsible boaters. A life jacket can provide time for rescue. It also helps conserve energy and provides flotation. Statistics show that 90 percent of those who drown at USACE lakes and rivers may have survived if they had worn a life jacket.

Safe water solution: Know your swimming ability. Swimming in open water is more difficult than in a swimming pool because a swimmer can tire more quickly and get into trouble. Conditions also can change quickly in open water. Be sure to swim in designated areas and remember to wear that life jacket.

Safe water solution: Be a water watcher. Always watch your children when they are on or near the water. Drowning happens quickly (a child can drown in only 20 seconds) and quietly, so know the signs. A drowning victim's head will be back and the victim will gasp for air and slap the water with their arms as though trying to climb out of the water. Note that the victim will not be yelling.

Safe water solution: Avoid exhaust fumes around boats. Carbon monoxide, an invisible killer, can accumulate in or around any type of boat. Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include eye irritation, headache, nausea, weakness and dizziness. Install and maintain carbon monoxide detectors on and inside the boat and avoid areas around boats where exhaust fumes may be present. Do not let friends swim under or around the boarding platform where fumes can accumulate.

USACE is the steward of the lands and waters at Corps water resources projects. To find a project near you, visit

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