Labor Day Weekend is among the busiest weekends of the year at lakes and rivers, and officials of the Army Corps of Engineers say they expect this year will be no exception. However, they warn visitors to practice good water safety habits to avoid accidents that could result in serious injury or death.
Corps park rangers say they expect everyone to obey boating laws, and law enforcement officers will be on the lookout. In addition, the park rangers urge people to go a step further during this busy weekend. They say wearing a life jacket at all times is the single most important step boaters can take to protect themselves.
Other safety tips for boaters include checking the weather before setting out and filing a float plan with a friend. Always post a sharp lookout and add even more care at night.
Whether boating or swimming, avoid alcohol. More than half of all the people who drown consume alcohol prior to their accident, so don’t drink alcohol if you’re planning to have fun in or on the water.
When swimming, never go alone, and never rely on toys such as inner tubes and water wings to stay afloat. Never dive into lakes and rivers. Don’t forget that lakes and rivers are much bigger than swimming pools; don’t overestimate your swimming skills. Swim only in designated swimming areas.
If you have children on your family outing, remember it only takes a few seconds for a child to wander away, so watch your children at all times.
Corps officials urge lake visitors not to jump or dive from cliffs. Several people have been seriously hurt or killed in the past few years by falling or jumping from bluffs into the water. Some victims were diving, jumping or swinging from bluffs into the water below. Others were climbing, sightseeing or walking near the edge when they fell or rocks gave way and they fell.
Life jackets loaner stations are located at some parks on Beaver, Table Rock, Bull Shoals, Norfork, Clearwater, Greers Ferry, Nimrod, Blue Mountain, Dardanelle, Millwood, Dierks, DeQueen, Greeson, DeGray, Ouachita, and Gillham lakes. Several Corps parks along the Arkansas River plus the Arkansas Game and Fish boat launch ramp near Verizon Arena also have loaner stations.
For more information about Corps’ Little Rock District, visit us online at: http://www.swl.usace.army.mil/ or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/littlerockusace, and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/usacelittlerock.