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    Don't Let the Monster Count You!

    Don't Let the Monster Count You!

    Photo By Pamela Doty | By R.J. Garren read more read more



    Story by Pamela Doty 

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Water Safety

    It’s a dismal topic, but I’m hoping that sharing the trends on who is drowning at lakes and rivers, will help save lives. In case you’re not aware, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is the nation’s leading provider of water-based recreation, managing more than 400 lakes and rivers in 43 states. Before I retired from USACE, I had the heart-wrenching task of recording public recreation fatalities by putting them into a spreadsheet to identify trends. Those of us who worked on it called that spreadsheet “the monster” because every story of how each individual drowns haunts those who work on it. It’s especially sad because the statistical trends are unfortunately predictable.

    Since 1998, when USACE started tracking public water-related fatalities, 89% of those who drown in boating or swimming incidents were not wearing a life jacket and 88% were men. There is no significant change in the past 5 years, 88% are not wearing a life jacket and 86% are men. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) tracks boating-related fatalities and those trends in the past 10 years are similar showing 85% were not wearing a life jacket.

    When boat length is known, eight out of every ten boaters who drowned were using vessels less than 21 feet in length, according to the USCG. In 2017, USCG fatality statistics showed an alarming 34% of all boating deaths were from falls overboard, falls in a boat, and being ejected from a vessel. Falls from boats, docks, or shore are the second highest reason that people drown in USACE waters.

    The reason most people drown since USACE started tracking water-related fatalities is 47% were swimming in undesignated swimming areas. Most people who drown were thought to be fairly good swimmers, but they succumbed to the many risks of swimming in open waters (i.e. lakes, rivers etc.).

    In the past five years, 65% of those who drown in USACE-managed waters were between the ages of 20 and 60. A good portion of those (32%) are considered Generation Y/Millennials born between 1982 and 2004. Neuroscientists estimate that the portion of the male brain that is capable of accurately assessing risk doesn’t fully develop until around the age of 25. Millennials surpassed baby boomers as the largest generation in existence in 2015 so there are a lot of young men not making wise decisions like that of wearing a life jacket.

    In a nutshell, if you’re a man between the ages of 20 and 60 that enjoys boating or swimming and doesn’t wear a life jacket you are at the highest risk of becoming a drowning statistic. Don’t let the “monster” count you! Wear your life jacket! If you don’t wear it for yourself, wear it for those who love you.



    Date Taken: 08.17.2018
    Date Posted: 08.17.2018 14:51
    Story ID: 289296
    Location: US

    Web Views: 44
    Downloads: 0