Did you know it only takes less than a half cup of water in your lungs to drown? Whether you are a great swimmer or non-swimmer, it could happen to anyone not wearing a life jacket.
On Aug. 31, more than fifty visitors witnessed a water rescue and recovery simulation conducted by the Baltimore District at Tioga-Hammond and Cowanesque Lakes, Pa., partnering with Guthrie Air, Middlebury and Tioga Fire Departments and the Wellsboro Fire Department Dive Team.
“The main message to everyone was to always wear your life jacket,” Jacob Dawson, student intern and event organizer said. “Today we really wanted to focus on that aspect and not drinking while boating. Most people know how to swim; we still recommend they wear a life jacket because you never know when you’re going to end up in the water and what the conditions will be.”
Dawson is one of 15 Student Conservation Association interns within the Corps this year designated specifically for water safety education. As part of his internship, he is required to find unique ways to promote water safety awareness in efforts to minimize fatalities.
All too often visitors ask why they need a life jacket if they can swim or are great swimmers. The answer is simple – it could save your life, Dawson said.
“You could end up going in unconscious and being a good swimmer isn’t going to help you, a life jacket could,” Dawson said. “If you’re unconscious and underwater with people who cannot swim, you’ll be in some trouble.”
The simulation scenario involved three people, two wearing life jackets and one without one, consuming alcohol while boating. After their canoe flips over, those wearing life jackets are easily found and rescued. Third person needs to be recovered by the dive team.
In this scenario, the last person was found and medically evacuated for treatment. In reality, the participants were fine, yet this situation could happen to anyone with tragic consequences.
“The simulation went as we planned for with all the players doing their part as we would in an emergency situation,” Dan Rice, Middlebury fire chief said. “We are a volunteer department and support educating the community to prevent a rescue mission from turning into a recovery mission.”
When taken by surprise, people may naturally gasp in shock resulting in water getting into the lungs. Panic and accidentally swallowing water can contribute to drowning quite easily. On average, it only takes 60 seconds for an adult and 20 seconds for a child to drown.
“This event was a great chance for us to practice our water safety rescue and recovery mission with our local partners,” Dina Henninger, park ranger said. “We want the public to know we do have a plan in place in case something happens. The best thing anyone can do it wear a life jacket for any water related activity. It really could save your life.”