Practicing water safety is a must when visiting J. Percy Priest Lake. Of the 152 people who have drowned on the lake since its impoundment in 1968, only 3 were wearing life jackets. The other 149 were not.
It’s a fact – life jackets do save lives! But they are only effective if worn properly. This means:
- The right size! A life jacket is too big if it can easily ride up when you lift your hands over your head. It’s too small if the inside label specifies a weight limit that you exceed.
- Appropriate for the activity! Different life jackets are made for different activities. Be sure to check the inside label to determine what activity a lifejacket is made to handle. For example, not all life jackets are appropriate for use on a personal watercraft or for skiing.
- In good condition! Using a life jacket as a seat cushion on the boat is one sure way to reduce the life jacket’s buoyancy. Life jackets need to be in serviceable condition, with no torn threads, holes, or flotation missing.
- Buckled & zipped! Wearing a life jacket haphazardly isn’t going to be nearly as effective in saving a life as one that’s worn in the manner it was intended. If a life jacket isn’t secured around the body, it could come off when you hit the water.
Reach, Row, Throw, Don't Go!
Knowing how to help yourself stay safe is an important step when heading out to a lake, pool, or other body of water; but knowing how to help others is equally as important.
“Reach, Row, Throw, Don’t Go!” is a mnemonic tool to remember when dealing with a potential drowning situation. While each word has a specific meaning, the basic message is to encourage a rescuer to find any means of helping a person besides going in after the victim him or herself.
People who feel that they are drowning have an increase in adrenalin which enables them to become extremely powerful. Their fear turns into panic which can take the well-intentioned rescuer into the water with them. Rescuers should instead stay on the bank or in the boat and reach a stick, a paddle, or anything else that could be grabbed onto by the drowning victim. Tossing a life ring or throw bag to someone in the water is also a life-saving option.
Kids Water Safety Zone
Attention kids and parents! Visit our Kids Water Safety Zone webpage created just for you. This webpage is full of fun water safety activities, links to fantastic resources, and great tips that will keep you and your family safe while you are recreating in and around water.
Life Jacket Loaner Program
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at J. Percy Priest Lake is helping keep kids and adults alike safe by participating in the Life Jacket Loaner Program. This program allows boaters and swimmers to borrow a child’s or adult life jacket for the day, at no charge!
If you don’t have enough properly-fitting life jackets on board or need a life jacket in a designated swimming area, simply stop by one of the life jacket loaner boards located at Anderson Road Swim Beach, Cook Swim Beach, or Seven Points Campground beach. When finished, simply return the jackets to the same location. For a life jacket at Poole Knobs Campground, please sign one out from the park attendant booth during normal operating hours.
Water Safety Tips
1. Make sure everyone in your family learns to swim well. The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim. Enroll in age and ability-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and learn-to-swim courses.
2. Always swim with a buddy; never swim alone.
3. Swim only in areas designated for swimming.
4. Read and obey all rules and posted signs.
5. Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
6. Watch out for the dangerous "too's" - too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity.
7. Set water safety rules for the whole family based on swimming abilities (for example, inexperienced swimmers should stay in water less than chest deep).
8. Be knowledgeable of the water environment you are in and its potential hazards, such as deep and shallow areas, currents, depth charges, obstructions and where the entry and exit points are located.
9. Pay attention to local weather conditions and forecasts. Stop swimming at the first indication of bad weather.
10. Never dive into unknown waters. Too many swimmers are seriously injured every year by entering headfirst into water that is too shallow or rocky. Use feet-first entry into water.
11. Do not mix alcohol with swimming, diving or boating. Alcohol impairs your judgment, balance, and coordination, affects your swimming and diving skills, and reduces your body's ability to stay warm.
12. Don't swim after heavy meals. You won't be able to move and react as quickly.
13. Know how to prevent, recognize, and respond to emergencies.
14. Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
15. Maintain constant supervision. It only takes a moment of distraction for something bad to happen.
16. Have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.