National Safe Boating Week promotes safe, responsible boating

Published May 20, 2014

SAVANNAH, Ga. – This week the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is teaming up with the National Safe Boating Council and other boating safety advocates across the nation to promote safe and responsible boating during National Safe Boating Week, May 17-23.

According to 2013 Recreational Boating Statistics issued by the U.S. Coast Guard, recreational boating accidents in the U.S. last year accounted for 560 deaths, 2,620 injuries and approximately $39 million of damage to property. Where cause of death was known, 77 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned; and 84 percent of them were not wearing a life jacket.

"Wearing a properly-fitted, Coast-Guard approved life jacket is your first line of defense for a safe day at the lake," said Joe Melton, natural resource program manager with the Corps of Engineers Savannah District, which operates lakes Hartwell, Richard B. Russell and J. Strom Thurmond. "We have installed life jacket loaner boards at many of our swim beaches so that visitors can borrow a life vest even if they don't own one."

So far in 2014, the Corps has recorded zero recreation-related fatalities at its three dam and lake projects on the Savannah River. The most recent fatality occurred at Hartwell Lake on October 5, 2013, when an adult male fell overboard a pontoon boat while having a seizure. He was not wearing a life jacket.

In addition to always wearing a life jacket, the Corps and the National Safe Boating Council offer these tips:

  •  File a float plan with a friend or family member
  •  Get a vessel safety check
  •  Take a boating safety course
  •  Check the weather forecast ahead of time
  •  Don't drink alcohol while boating or swimming

Get more boating safety tips, including links to online boating course and training, by visiting the National Safe Boating Council website at For more information on Corps recreation sites, visit 

Tracy Robillard, Public Affairs Specialist
After hours: Billy Birdwell 912-677-6039

Release no. 14-024