By Lt. Col. James A. DeLapp
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District Commander
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As we enter the Labor Day weekend and the remaining few weeks of the summer recreation season, I want to again emphasize the extreme importance of “Water Safety” to continue reducing fatalities on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District’s 10 lakes.
I am pleased to report that with increased, collaborative outreach efforts to inform our visitors and the general public of the vital importance of practicing water safety, public fatalities in the Nashville District are down to eight this year, compared to 18 during the same period last year.
Of these 26 total fatalities, only one was wearing a life jacket and that death was due to blunt force injuries sustained in a collision. Life jackets do save lives. Possibly the other 25 folks would be enjoying this Labor Day weekend if they had only worn a life jacket.
While we cannot control the individual actions of our 33 million annual visitors, we are doing everything we can to help them make wise, but easy choices that can save their lives when recreating on Corps facilities.
Partnering with other federal, state and local agencies and organizations, park rangers, staff and volunteers at district lakes have significantly increased their public contacts this year by hosting a multitude of programs and activities promoting water safety and by participating in numerous community events to reach wider audiences.
Additionally, boat patrols were increased to provide courtesy inspections. Please do not consider these inspections a form of harassment; they are to increase your safety awareness and may possibly result in saving your life or others in the future.
Rangers check to see if you have U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets for each person aboard, if your boat is overloaded or overpowered, and if you have other required safety equipment. They work to protect you and others whenever possible.
Increased education and voluntary compliance with water safety practices is preferable to everyone concerned. If you have a question, ask a park ranger.
Please operate your vessel safely and swim within your personal limits in approved areas. Be sure to swim with a friend or buddy at all times, refrain from cliff diving, and always maintain safe distances from dams during water releases.
One death is too many so we cannot over-emphasize the need to wear life jackets when on or around the water. Also, please consider the possible consequences of your actions and choose wisely. It’s your life, but if you lose it, those you love and depend on you also lose.
Please visit and have fun at our Corps lakes. But be safe so you can be with those dear to you for many more weekends on the water.
Best wishes for your continued safety.
For more news, information and updates please follow the Nashville District on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and the commander at http://www.facebook.com/nashvilledistrictcommander.