US Army Corps of Engineers
Baltimore District

Water Safety Links

 

True or False Assumptions

Why do 170 people (on average) continue to fall victim to water-related fatalities every year at Corps of Engineers lakes and rivers?  A major reason is people think an accident won’t happen to them.  Test your assumptions and learn to expect the unexpected.

 

True: Most people die from "cold shock" which is not hypothermia.

Death from hypothermia occurs when your body looses so much heat that vital organs can no longer function.  Immersion in cold water can speed up hypothermia, but the bigger concern is "cold shock".  Victims often think they'll have time to reenter a boat or swim to shore, but cold shock claims lives in seconds.  Automatic and uncontrollable heavy breathing occure when a body enters the water, and if it occurs underwater drowning is almost immediate.  A lifejacket buys you time in a cold water emergency- wear it!

Remember, lifejackets are mandatory from November 1 - April 30 for everyone aboard boats under 16 feet and all canoes and kayaks.

True: 47% of fatalities occurred when the victim was swimming, but that number is closely followed by boaters at 43%.

The victims might be involved in different activities, but the circumstances for their deaths are tragically parallel.  Half never expected to enter the water and the other half never expected to be unable to leave.  No matter the activity, you fall into one of these categories.  Wearing a lifejacket protects you from either circumstance.

False:  Over half of all Raystown fatalities occurred to people that are sober.

While it’s true that drinking is the number one factor in deadly boating accidents, don’t assume anyone who made a poor choice around water did so as a result of drinking.  Small mistakes and taking chances account for far more lives than alcohol.

True:  According to the PA Fish and Boat Commission a whopping 73% of all accidents involved experienced boaters.

Relying on experience is far and away the leading factor in not only boating accidents, but water-related fatalities.  False assumptions, bad habits, overconfidence and ego all relate to this issue.  When it comes to safety experience is helpful, but not a replacement for the basics- like wearing a lifejacket.

True:  78% of operators involved in an accident had no boaters education, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

But don’t be quick to judge!  “Boater’s education” is defined as instruction in a classroom setting or via online course.  Do you have boater’s education or would you fall into the 78%?  The vast majority of boaters rely on inaccurate experience and assumptions.  Remember boater’s education covers more than the rules of the water, but also safety.  It’s a good reminder no matter your experience level and there are plenty of materials and free courses online.

False: Nearly 4 out of 5 drownings happen to adults.

 

When it comes to safety, kids have more things going for them than adults.  Kids are almost always supervised around water.  Kids are expected to wear lifejackets.  Kids often recognize their limited swimming abilities.  And kids are easily swayed by an excess of child-oriented safety campaign materials.  Adults on the other hand often visit the lake alone.  Adults often perceive lifejackets as a point of weakness.  Adults don’t recognize or acknowledge their limited swimming abilities especially when it comes to age, health, or environmental factors.  And adults never think an accident could happen to them, despite campaign reminders.  Set an example for our future generation by consistently practicing water safety yourself- especially wearing a lifejacket!