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Raystown officials stress water safety

From Mirror reports

HUNTINGDON — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, is urging Raystown Lake visitors to practice water safety when recreating near the water. This appeal comes as the Army Corps recently announced throughout the United States, more than 30 people lost their lives to drowning in June at lake and river projects managed by the Army Corps.

Approximately a million people visit Raystown every year to enjoy boating, swimming, fishing and other water related activities. While there were no drowning fatalities at Raystown in 2019, the lake already documented one drowning fatality earlier this year in March.

Studies have shown that adult males represent over 80 percent of the water related fatalities at Raystown, but are usually the last ones to wear a life jacket. The Army Corps reported that nearly all the June drowning victims across the country were adult males between the ages 18 and 85 and were not wearing a life jacket.

“Unfortunately we’ve already had one drowning at Raystown earlier this year and we want to do whatever we can to prevent more,” said Allen Gwinn, supervisory park ranger at Raystown Lake. “Spreading the water safety message will hopefully help. At Raystown Lake, most water-related fatalities could have been prevented had the victim worn a lifejacket so we’re urging all visitors to think safety, bring their life jackets, and wear them when on the lake.”

USACE officials recommend people be aware of these safety concerns prior to swimming in open waters, whether at Raystown or elsewhere.

When swimming or wading along a shoreline there might be a deep drop-off just a few feet away. Drop-offs might be more than 100 feet deep at some lakes. Swimming in a protected area, such as a cove or around a boat might seem safer, but even in those situations you can become exhausted. Boats tend to drift away and people misjudge distances like how far it is to the shoreline.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is another thing to be aware of when swimming or floating around boats. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas. It is heavier than air and lighter than water, so it floats on the water’s surface and one breath if you’re in the water with it can be deadly. Sources of carbon monoxide on your boat may include engines, gas generators, cooking ranges, and space and water heaters.

Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include eye irritation, headache, nausea, weakness, and dizziness. Knowing these signs and what to do to prevent them can help you stay alive. Install and maintain a carbon monoxide detector on your boat. Turn off the boat’s engine and other carbon monoxide producing equipment when anchored. Maintain a fresh circulation of air through and around your boat at all times. Avoid areas of your boat where exhaust fumes may be present. Do not let anyone swim under or around the boarding platform.

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