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Army Engineers promote water safety

By Lt. Col. Matthew Luzzato, commander | U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District | May 31, 2016

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. — Since the travel magazine Conde Nast named Charleston the number one destination to visit in the United States, many military members are pleased when they are handed their next assignment and see the location, "Charleston, SC."  It is a beautiful place with great weather, friendly people and top of the line restaurants and, a bonus, it's surrounded by water. We are fortunate to live here every day or, at least, every day until our assignment is complete. We feel blessed to call the Lowcountry our home.

Until I arrived, I actually didn't realize just how much water there is around Charleston. I quickly became familiar with Charleston Harbor, the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and Folly Beach because I was now professionally involved with these bodies of water. It didn't take long to learn of all the other beaches, lakes and wonderful water spots where Charlestonians spend their free time. It felt like everywhere I turned, people were boating, swimming, fishing and enjoying Charleston's abundant aquatic gifts.

Unfortunately, it didn't take long before I started hearing the "down side" of so much water - drownings.  Last summer, almost every week, it seemed like I either read in the newspaper or heard on the nightly news of such a tragic event.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the nation's leading provider of outdoor recreation with more than 400 lake and river projects in 43 states and more than 370 million visitors each year. While the Charleston District doesn't manage any recreation sites in South Carolina, the Savannah District manages three campgrounds in the state at Lakes Hartwell, Russell and Thurmond.

For all of these reasons, the Charleston District has begun utilizing Bobber, the Water Safety Dog the Corps' national mascot, to promote children's water safety. Drowning is the number one injury-related cause of death in children ages one to four. Bobber has made several appearances around the Lowcountry in recent months. The message from Bobber and the Corps is simple - always wear your life jacket when you're in or near water.

As we enter these summer months, keep your family happy and safe by remembering what Bobber has taught me:

· Closely supervise children who are in and around water.
· Learn CPR
· Teach children how to swim
· Wear life jackets in and around lakes and oceans
· Expect the unexpected, always wear a life jacket on a boat
· Weak swimmers, should wear their life jacket while in the pool
· Adults watching kids in or near the water should avoid distracting activities like using cell phones.