PORTLAND, Ore. --
Last year, 27 Oregonians died in recreational boating-related incidents – the most in three decades. Incidents overall spiked in 2020. Of 96 fatal and non-fatal occurrences – a 20-year high – three happened at Portland District reservoirs.
The Oregon State Marine Board tracks these and officials attribute the increase – in part – to the pandemic.
“A big reason for that was record numbers of people getting outdoors as the COVID-19 pandemic limited other options,” said Randy Henry, boating safety program manager for the Oregon State Marine Board. Many of those people were new to boating,” he said.
Portland District averages more than four million visitors per year at 133 recreation sites across 18 dams and reservoirs in Oregon and Washington. The visitation numbers plus water recreation activities can be a deadly mix unless users take precautions, such as:
- Wearing a life jacket: it will help you survive an unexpected fall into the water and can save your life if you become exhausted due to fatigue, waves or current while swimming.
- Knowing your swimming abilities: swimming in natural waters is different from swimming in a pool, and your swimming ability decreases with age.
- Expecting the unexpected: if you fall or jump into water that is colder than 70 degrees, you can inhale water from involuntary gasping.
- Understanding “boater’s hypnosis”: this can slow your reaction time almost as much as if you were legally intoxicated.
- Eliminating alcohol consumption: Alcohol induces an inner ear condition (caloric labyrinthitis) that can cause you to become disoriented when underwater and not realize which way is up.
District staff stress the importance of water safety year-round, but especially during the summer season because that is when most public recreation fatalities occur.
Learn more water safety tips by visiting www.PleaseWearIt.com.
As a reminder, the Corps requires face masks in all buildings and facilities to slow the spread of COVID-19 for all visitors, volunteers and employees. Masks should also be worn outdoors on Corps-managed lands when attending crowded events, and non-vaccinated individuals should wear masks outdoors when they cannot properly social distance.
For more information about recreational boating incident and fatalities in Oregon, visit: https://www.oregon.gov/osmb/pages/accidents-and-fatalities.aspx.
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Portland District’s 150th Birthday: Portland District is one of the nation’s most comprehensive and diverse civil works programs and has been supporting the people of Oregon and southwest Washington since 1871. Throughout its 150-year history, the District has been operating locks and dams along the Columbia River, managing flood risks in the Willamette Valley and Rogue River Basin, maintaining Oregon's coastal waterways for navigation, and leading the Nation in hydropower generation. The team of more than 1,400 civil servants manage these missions all while ensuring equal attention is paid to environmental protection and restoration, fish and wildlife enhancement, and world-class recreation opportunities.