News Releases

Life jacket worn... nobody mourns

Published June 30, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. – More public recreation fatalities occur in July than any other month, and so the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Portland District asks you to please play it safe while on, in, or near the water. Drowning is a leading cause of death this time of year, and most people that drown would have survived if they had worn a life jacket.

Here are some more tips to help you have a safe and enjoyable time this summer. Swimming in open water is different and more difficult than in a swimming pool. You can tire more quickly and get into trouble due to changing conditions, waves, current, lack of experience, or exhaustion. While wearing a life jacket you will not use as much energy, it will help you float, and it will be there when and if you ever really need it.

While on or near the water, watch out for each other at all times. It only takes 20 seconds for a child to drown and 60 seconds for an adult to drown. Several people drown every year within 10 feet of safety because the people around them were not paying attention and did not recognize the signs of drowning: head back, mouth open gasping for air, no yelling or sound, and arms slapping the water like they are trying to climb out of the water. Properly rescuing someone should never include contact with them unless you are a trained lifeguard. Reach out to the victim with something to keep your distance, or throw them something that floats to pull them to safety.

Avoid prolonged breath holding activities and games because it can lead to shallow water blackout. Shallow water blackout can affect anyone who is breath-holding, even physically fit swimmers.

Boaters or those swimming near boats should be aware that carbon monoxide is an odorless, invisible, and silent killer. Carbon monoxide can accumulate anywhere in or around your boat. Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include eye irritation, headache, nausea, weakness, and dizziness. One breath of carbon monoxide at the water’s surface can cause you to pass out and drown. Avoid areas where exhaust fumes may be present, and do not let anyone swim under or around the boarding platform.

Increased water safety awareness can help ensure that you and your loved ones have fun this summer and return home safely. Always remember to wear a life jacket because it could save your life or the life of someone you love. Life Jackets Worn…Nobody Mourns. Learn more at

Sarah P. Bennett

Release no. 17-021

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