Always Wear Your Life Jacket on Allatoona
It’s late spring and the lake and recreation programs are beginning to heat up. May also is National Boating and Water Safety Month, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers takes water safety very seriously. There were 178 water-related fatalities at Corps projects nationwide in fiscal year 2022. The Life Jackets Worn … Nobody Mourns campaign was created by the Corps to target adults — primarily adult males — and educate the public on the importance of wearing personal floatation devices (PFD).
The Corps’ public recreation fatality statistics between 1998 and 2022 show that 88% of fatalities at its lakes were male. The worst part is that in 89% of the fatalities, the victims were not wearing a life jacket. Additionally, 47% were swimming in undesignated swimming areas. In fiscal year 2022, there were seven water-related fatalities on Allatoona Lake. This included six adults — four males and two females — and one child. Not one was wearing a life jacket.
Allatoona Rangers and volunteers made more than 33,000 water safety contacts with the public last year and expect much the same this year. There are many steps the public can take to stay safe on the lake, including:
- Take a boating safety course.
- Learn to swim.
- Swim with a buddy.
- Swim only in designated areas.
- Wear a life jacket.
The Corps offers several water-safety programs at the lake that are geared toward adults and stress the wearing of life jackets. For the past two years, the Corps has promoted an “I got caught” program, sponsored by the Corps Foundation, which awards beach towels and dry bags to adults who were caught wearing their PFD when not required. Some paddle sports visitors also received a waterproof phone pouch, with a whistle and other safety information, when wearing their life jacket while paddling on the lake. The pouches are provided by the Corps’ National Water Program, as part of a partnership program on Allatoona Lake created by Cherokee County Safe Kids, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Corps.
The Corps also offers 21 Life Jacket Loaner Stations on the lake, and there are numerous other stations provided by partnering agencies and organizations.
– Christopher Purvis is lead ranger at Lake Allatoona over partnerships, volunteers and project security. He has been a ranger on Allatoona Lake since 2005.