In the last week, Whiskeytown Lake experienced two drowning incidents and some near drownings at various locations within the park.
Lifeguards at Brandy Creek Beach perform about 25-40 swimmer assists or near drowning rescues each summer season. That accounts for nearly one rescue for every 1,000 beach visitors. Because of this high rate of water related incidents, park staff want to provide visitors with water safety information to ensure everyone has a fun and safe day at the Lake.
Simply wearing a life jacket while boating or participating in water based recreation will greatly increase your chances of survival and prevent a tragedy. Ten people die every day from drowning in the US. Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children ages 1-14. Many drownings occur within 25 yards of shore. In 71 percent of all boating deaths, victims were not wearing their life jackets!
Dr. Francesco A. Pia has studied drowning and created the term “Instinctive Drowning Response.” Dr. Pia offers the following advice: “Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water for 20-60 seconds before submersion occurs.”
Learn to recognize common signs of drowning:
Head low in the water, mouth at water level
Head tilted back with mouth open
Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
Hair over forehead or eyes
Not using legs-vertical
Hyperventilating or gasping
Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
Trying to roll over on the back
Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder
Water safety expert Mario Vittone stated “So if someone falls overboard and everything looks okay, don’t be too sure. One way to be sure? Ask them if they are alright, if they return a blank stare, you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them. When children play in water they make noise, when they get quiet, you need to get to them and find out why.”
At Whiskeytown Lake, don’t let yourself or one of your family members become the “one in a thousand” that need rescue. Your water safety depends on you and the choices you make.
To safeguard you and your family around water, follow these simple suggestions:
• Never swim alone.
• Always supervise your children, especially around water! Designate a responsible adult to watch your children when they are in or around water.
• Learn CPR.
• Avoid alcohol when participating in activities around water.
• Wear a properly fitted US Coast Guard approved lifejacket.
• We highly recommend swimming lessons for visitors of all ages.
• Take your phone and know your location. For emergencies call 911.
Through a generous contribution from The Friends of Whiskeytown, the lifeguards at Brandy Creek Beach have a free lifejacket loan program from Memorial Day through Labor Day. They have a variety of sizes ranging from infant through adult. Check out the jackets at 10:00 am and return them by 5:30 pm. Each summer season almost 4,000 visitors participate in the lifejacket loan program. For the program to be successful the lifejackets must be returned each day, so they may be checked out the next day by other visitors. Remember to be smart around water! For more information on water safety please visit www.USCGboating.org or www.safeboatingcouncil.org.