Written by Park Ranger Tanner Rich
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District
Nashville, TN – School is back in session, work has picked up, days are getting shorter, and there is just one holiday left before the unofficial end of summer. This Labor Day weekend families will get together to recreate and celebrate all the hard days they have worked.
When swimming or boating on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lakes, the public is encouraged to have fun, but remember a few water safety tips to keep safe.
Swimming in designated areas is always best. Designated swimming areas on the Corps of Engineers property are well marked by floating orange lines and protected by “Boat Keep Out” buoys.
These areas also have life jacket loaner boards stationed on the beaches available for anyone to use free of charge. Beaches can get crowded, so remember to wear your life jacket if needed.
While in or around the water, keep an eye out for anyone that could possibly be struggling to stay above the water. If someone is drowning or in need of help, there are four things to remember. After calling 9-1-1, (1) Reach for anything that can float to help the victim stay above water.
Examples include life jackets, throw rings, beach balls, empty Styrofoam coolers, etc. (2) Throw the object as close as possible to the person, so the person can grab hold and stay afloat. (3) Row towards that person if you have access to a raft or vessel. (4) DON’T GO in the water to assist the person, unless you are a trained life guard. In fear, the distressed swimmer may drown anyone trying to offer rescue.
For those interested in boating over the Labor Day holiday, please familiarize yourselves with all the state required items necessary for your vessel. A list of items for boating in Tennessee can be found at: http://tn.gov/assets/entities/twra/attachments/boatneeds.pdf. 
Among these requirements, life jackets are mandatory for every passenger aboard the vessel, and those 12 and younger must be wearing their life jacket anytime the boat is not anchored. Lastly, it is very important to attach the kill switch rope to the boat operator before the vessel is in motion. If there is an accident or the operator is thrown away from the captain’s chair, the switch will automatically cut off the boat’s engine. The kill switch saves lives!
While on the water, pay attention to your surroundings and watch for other people. Remember, you are not the only person on the lake. Have a good Labor Day and remember to always stay safe while on a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lake.