Jul. 13—The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mobile District has been experiencing the highest visitation to its recreational parks since 2016, averaging 15% higher than the standard year.
The district is also experiencing a record number of fatal accidents and incidents simultaneously.
Currently, there have been 21 public drownings this year in the Mobile District's waterways and recreation sites. To better help put this into perspective, there were 13 deaths in all 2021.
"We've had 21 fatalities in the Mobile District this year," said Chris Purvis, lead ranger at Lake Allatoona. "That is 21 families that came to the lake to have a good time and left without a family member or friend."
The average age of the deceased was 35 years old. All but one of the fatalities were male. The activities in each tragedy were fishing, swimming and boating. Other districts have reported similar circumstances, with upwards of 90% or more of the victims being adult males.
Several safety measures could have prevented these deaths during each activity. Undoubtedly, if they had, some of these people may still be alive. Properly using life jackets, abstinence from drugs and alcohol, and awareness of water levels and weather conditions are all things that, if employed into the regular water day routine, can and do save lives.
In response to this significant increase in the loss of life on the Corps-owned property, the district is implementing a unified water safety campaign to educate and remind lake patrons to partake and incorporate measures into their routine that may save lives.
— Wear properly fitted lifejacket.
— Swim in designated swimming areas only.
— Boat Sober. Alcohol and boaters hypnosis effects coordination, judgement and reaction time.
Unfortunately, it's a myth that drowning victims splash and shout for help. In reality the signs of someone struggling in the water are head back, mouth open, no sound and arms slapping water. If one sees a person in distress follow these guidelines: Reach, Throw, Row but Don't Go.
To promote water safety at its lakes, the Corps' Life Jacket Loaner Program is available at most of its recreation areas. This program offers a free life jacket for visitors to use while recreating at the lake. Check with the visitor's center or look for the life jacket loaner displays on Corps' swimming beaches. Gifts and awards are also given to people caught wearing their life jackets properly.