TULSA, Okla. - Before you head out for a day on or near the water, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers encourages you to make sure you have life jackets for everyone and that they wear them.
Last year 16 people drowned at Tulsa District lakes; none of the victims wore a life jacket. Life jackets save lives by keeping you afloat and providing time for rescue.
Most people who drown never intended to be in the water; they unexpectedly fell from a boat or dock into the water. When this happens, a person will reflexively gasp and can inhale up to one liter of water and drown in less than a minute.
Others get into trouble swimming out to retrieve a boat that floated away, or swimming in association with a boat. Swimming in natural waters is not the same as swimming in a pool. Even strong swimmers can get into trouble and be gone within seconds. It takes an adult 60 seconds to drown and a child 20 seconds to drown. Swimming ability also decreases with age.
Swim at a designated swim beach. These areas have been inspected to provide a safe swimming environment. At all Corps of Engineers beaches you swim at your own risk so adults please watch your children, because most people drowned within 10 feet of safety. Many shorelines at Corps of Engineers lake and river projects have drop offs and you can be in water over your head instantly or pulled under by the current.
Expect the unexpected and wear the right fit and type of life jacket - all of the people who drowned at a Tulsa District lake last year didn't.