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Corps urges visitors to think ‘safety first’

KANSAS CITY, Mo.— In light of a spike in water-related fatalities at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lakes this recreation season, officials are urging the public to think “safety first” at while recreating on or near the water.

The Kansas City District, which manages 18 lakes throughout Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska, has experienced 74 water-related fatalities in the past nine years.

“Of these 74, only one person was wearing a life jacket,” said Jonathan Carlisle, water safety program manager for the district. “Additionally, 72 of the 74 fatalities were males. We want all individuals, no matter your swimming abilities, to wear a life jacket at all times when on a vessel. Most drowning victims never intended to be in the water.”

Carlisle said, so far this year, the district has seen seven water-related fatalities at the district’s Kansas lakes — the most they have had in these lakes in more than 20 years. Even though it’s against the law to operate a vessel while intoxicated, alcohol was a contributing factor in five of the seven drownings.

“Many water-related accidents involve the use of drugs and alcohol, and drowning victims are often intoxicated at the time of death,” Carlisle said.

The Kansas City District recommends visitors boat sober and use alcohol responsibly when in or near the water. Alcohol and drugs can also intensify an inner-ear condition, which causes people to become disoriented when suddenly entering the water and to swim down when they think they are swimming up.

“We also like to remind parents that children can drown in less than 20 seconds, so it is imperative to watch them at all times when they are on or near the water,” Carlisle said.

For questions, contact the Public Affairs Office at 816-389-3486.

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