Army Corps of Engineers reminds boaters to be safe on water

As thousands of Americans plan visits to reservoirs and rivers, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District reminds them of the importance of practicing safe, sensible and thoughtful activities in, on and around open water.

People lose their lives while visiting USACE-managed lands and waters every year. Most of the tragedies are water related. The corps calls on the public to keep water safety a priority at our 16 lake projects and all riverways throughout the Pittsburgh District. Water safety is important year-round, but it is especially critical during the summer season when most public recreation fatalities occur.

Boaters and all watercraft recreators are reminded of three words while on the water: KNOW, TAKE, WEAR. Know the waterways before heading out. Take a boat safety course. Wear a life jacket.

People of all ages are encouraged to practice water safety this summer. Before entering or being around open water (lakes, rivers, ponds, etc.), keep these tips in mind because they could save your life or the life of someone you care about.

  • Pay attention to warning signs on the water — Fixed-crest dams are concrete underwater dams that pose serious and life-threatening dangers to boaters on all three major rivers in the Pittsburgh region. All boaters must pay attention to warning signs and keep out of danger zones posted near our dams when recreating on the rivers.
  • Expect the unexpected — Boating accidents can happen too fast to reach for stowed life jackets, so boaters should always prepare for the unexpected by wearing a life jacket while aboard a watercraft.
  • Wear a life jacket — An adult can drown in 60 seconds, and it can take a strong swimmer several minutes to put on a life jacket after entering the water, especially if the jackets are stowed away.
  • Wear Engine Cutoff Device While Boating — If thrown out of a boat, there is always the danger of being struck by a spinning propeller. An engine cut-off switch lanyard immediately stops the engine after ejection so the operator can regain control of the boat.
  • Alcohol and water are a deadly combination — Alcohol continued to be one of the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents, accounting for 16% of boating deaths.

Pittsburgh District’s 26,000 square miles include parts of western Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia, eastern Ohio, western Maryland and southwestern New York. The jurisdiction includes more than 328 miles of navigable waterways, 23 locks and dams, 16 multi-purpose reservoirs, 42 local flood-protection projects, and other projects to protect and enhance the nation’s water resources, infrastructure and environment.