News: District engineer asks everyone to be a water safety messenger
FORT WORTH, Texas - A dozen people have died at local Corps lakes since the Memorial Day weekend. Most of the fatalities were drownings which included three children. We take our role as stewards of public safety on our lakes very seriously. Whenever we have any loss of life, it triggers a variety of emotions from sadness to anger and frustration.
But it also motivates us at the Fort Worth District to really examine why we already have 19 deaths on our lakes so early into the summer season and what we can do to stop these senseless tragedies.
The Corps, along with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the U.S. Coast Guard, local schools and various community groups and organizations continuously promote water safety in one form or another. We do it in several languages, online, on signage, and in magazines, books and hand-outs.
So where exactly is the message getting lost on those who recreate on our lakes?
- Is the sign that warns of the dangers of cliff diving not big enough?
- Is the notion that operating a watercraft while drinking alcohol is dangerous not simple enough to comprehend?
- Is trying to swim across a lake without a life jacket to impress the girls or guys so much more important than making sure you go home alive?
- Is sending that text message instead of watching your kids in and around the water worth their deaths?
The water safety messages are simple, the messengers are plenty and the audience is out there.
The Corps with help from all our regional communities must show and send these messages more often, more directly, and we must not relent. We must inform everyone on how to buy a properly fitted life jacket. We must highlight where loaner life jackets are and how to properly wear them. We must continue to applaud those that follow safety practices and correct those that do not. We must deliver the message in a manner that people embrace and pass it on. We must inspire thoughts of safety and promote safe recreation.
There will always be people who, for whatever reason, decide to tempt fate – either because they are intoxicated, succumb to peer pressure or are just not using good sense.
Practicing water safety can help ensure that you aren’t the next statistic. Here are a few proven tips:
+ A life jacket can’t save your life if you don’t wear it!
+ Swim only in designated swim areas!
+ Alcohol and water do not mix when it comes to water-related recreation!
+ Be safety conscious – look after your family and friends and slow down when the lake is crowded!
Together we can prevent tragedies on the water. Please spread the word!
Col. Charles H. Klinge, Jr.
Commander, Fort Worth District