Five ways to stay alive this summer

Kyla Shouten and Kasey Petersen, both 21, Springfield, Ore., enjoy tubing on Fall Creek Reservoir. (2013 Portland District Photo Contest, photo by Kyra Fulkerson, Willamette Valley Project)

Kyla Shouten and Kasey Petersen, both 21, Springfield, Ore., enjoy tubing on Fall Creek Reservoir. (2013 Portland District Photo Contest, photo by Kyra Fulkerson, Willamette Valley Project)

While enjoying the summer at Corps recreation sites all around the region everyone is reminded to use extra caution while in or around the water.    Be sure everyone in your group follows these water safety tips to ensure a safer recreation experience:

Wear your life jacket: Each year about 4,000 people drown in the United States. This is the second leading cause of accidental deaths for persons 15 to 44 years of age. The majority of these tragedies could have been prevented by simply wearing a life jacket. Please do your friends and loved ones a favor —wear a lifejacket.

Learn to swim well and don’t overestimate your skill. Once you know how to swim, always swim with a buddy. Don’t rely on inner tubes or water toys to keep you afloat. Know your limits. Each year many people drown by overestimating their swimming skills and swimming beyond their limits.

Beware of cold water: Cold-water immersion can cause hypothermia and usually results in an automatic ‘gasp’ reflex (which can be fatal if you’re not wearing your life jacket). Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce it. This can happen in any season, especially in the Pacific Northwest, where water temperatures remain low all year.

Don’t drink and boat: About 70 percent of adolescent and adult deaths associated with water recreation involve alcohol use. This is about one in five reported boating fatalities. Just one beer can impair your balance, vision, judgment and reaction time, making you a potential danger to yourself and others. Don’t include alcohol in your outing if you are planning to have fun in, on, or near the water.

Remember this simple message:  Wearing your life jacket is the single most important lifesaving action that you can take to protect yourself and your family.