MOBILE, Ala. (WRBL) – On Wednesday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Mobile District announced the implementation of a unified water safety program to combat a rising number of deaths occurring at the district’s waterways and recreation sites.

According to the USACE, the district has experienced the highest visitation record to its recreational parks since 2016, averaging 15% higher than previous years. Although visitation has increased, the USACE reports record numbers of fatal accidents and incidents.

Currently, the USACE reports 21 public drownings this year, compared to 13 deaths in 2021.

Data provided by USACE shows the average age of individuals involved in fatal water-related accidents is 35 years old. Only one death reported out of 21 deaths was a male. The activities resulting in fatalities were fishing, swimming, and boating.

To combat the rising deaths, the USACE recommends individuals who partake in water-related activities to incorporate the following safety measures:

  • Wear properly fitted lifejacket
  • Swim in designated swimming areas ONLY
  • Boat Sober: alcohol & boaters hypnosis effects coordination, judgement & reaction time

Additionally, the USACE explained that a common misconception regarding drowning victims is that individuals will “splash and shout for help.” The USACE says, “individuals who are struggling in water are usually head back, mouth open, making no sound, and their arms will slap the water.”

The USACE advises that if you see someone in distress while in the water, to “Reach, Throw, and Row but Don’t Go.”

The Corp’s Life Jacket Loaner Program is available to visitors in most Mobile District recreational areas to promote water safety further. The program offers free life jackets to visitors to use while engaging in water-related activities.