Omaha District Water Safety

The Omaha District Water Safety Program operates under the principles of the National Water Safety Plan. Our mission is to increase public awareness of boating and water safety through educational materials, products, outreach, and programs. The program’s goals are to increase the effectiveness of awareness initiatives while minimizing government costs by partnering with other stakeholders.
Dams and Lakes in the Omaha District Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! Invasive Species Prevention USACE Water Safety Program Buy boating and navigation maps from the Jefferson National Parks Association

Water Safety News Releases

Corps stresses hot-weather safety
Water management and recreation officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ urge visitors to keep safety in mind while enjoying outdoor recreation opportunities, particularly during unusually hot...
Life jackets save lives, period!
Choosing to not wear your life jacket is not only illegal, it can be fatal...
Reclamation schedules Lake Audubon fall drawdown
Water levels on Lake Audubon will start being lowered by the Bureau of Reclamation beginning the week of September 28 as part of annual fall drawdown operations...
Be safe, know and follow the rules this upcoming holiday
With the upcoming holiday, rangers at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recreation areas across the Missouri Basin want to remind the public about a few rules and policies to help prevent fires, drowning,...
"Play it safe" at USACE Lakes
The warmer temperatures are bringing more visitors to recreation areas across the Omaha District. Park Rangers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are reminding visitors to have life jackets for...

Drowning: The Silent Killer

An estimated 60 percent of all drownings are witnessed because people can’t identify the four signs of a drowning victim.
Some of these signs include: head back (bobs up and down above/below the surface), mouth open, no sound, arms outstretched, moving simultaneously in an above-the-water, up-and-down stroke that appears as if the victim is slapping or playing in the water.

Watch Your Children!

Bobber LogoWater Safety programs are held by the Projects and District office with trained Natural Resource personnel. Most programs are conducted in the field or at special events; contact is face to face with the public. Outreach efforts also include Billboards, Public Service Announcements, and Life Jacket Loaner boards. For the 2012 recreation season the Omaha District’s Water Safety team promoted our water safety message at more than 32 special events.

Each year about 200 children drown in the U.S. and several thousand others are treated in hospitals for submersion accidents—accidents which leave children with permanent brain damage and respiratory health problems.

Children have a natural curiosity and attraction to water but remember, it only takes a few seconds for a small child to wander away and as little as 8 seconds for a child to drown. Watch your children at all times when in and around the water and ensure that everyone wears a properly fitting life jacket.

Click on Bobber the Water Safety Dog where he appears on our web pages for more water safety information or resources. Bobber also has his own website at where coloring pages, bookmarks and other resources can help children learn about water safety. At the site, click "Enter" and then to to the Waterbowl Lake information board to the right . Click on “New” for new Bobber products. 

Heat Escape Lessening Posture

H.E.L.P. LogoCold-water immersion is the cause of many boating-related fatalities. The danger increases as water temperature decreases below normal body temperature (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Cold-water immersion follows four stages: starting with cold shock, followed by swimming failure, then hypothermia and finally post-rescue collapse.

Most cold-water drowning fatalities are attributed to the first two stages, not hypothermia. All boaters should wear a life jacket and dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature.

If self-rescue is not possible, start actions to minimize heat loss by remaining as still as possible in the Heat Escape Lessening Position, with your knees drawn up to your chest with your arms grasping them together or simply huddling with your arms around other survivors in a circle. Additional layers of clothing can help you stay afloat by trapping air. Wet clothes will not weigh you down in the water as many people perceive, because water does not weigh more than water.

Find a report on cold-water immersion at

Boating Safety

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 Boat with consideration for others
You are responsible for any damage that your vessel or your wake causes. Be cautious and aware of your surroundings at all times. Obey all signs and posted restrictions. Typically, irresponsible actions of boat operators lead to accidents, so boat responsibly.
 Boating courses provide valuable training
Learn tips that can help save your life in unexpected situations by taking a National Association of Boating Law Administrators-approved boating safety course. Many insurance companies offer discounts to boating safety course graduates. In addition, many states require a boating class for operators under a certain age. These are offered by the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadron, state agencies, and on-line.
 Carbon monoxide poisoning: beware!
CO is a colorless, odorless gas that can harm and even kill you while you are inside or swimming outside of a boat. CO is lighter than water so it invisibly hovers on the water’s surface. Prevent the unexpected by learning more about where CO may accumulate and CO poisoning symptoms.
 Don't rock your boat
Standing up in your boat can increase the risk of an unexpected fall overboard while your boat is underway, adrift or at anchor. Many falls overboard result in death. Increase your chance of survival by wearing your life jacket!
 How to properly rescue a person overboard
Many drowning victims are within 10 feet of safety, having unintentionally entered the water. You should never go near anybody struggling to stay afloat because you could drown too! Extend a pole, stick, line or clothing to reach them or throw something floatable to them. The "Reach, Throw, Row, Go for Help" rescue method is used to avoid multiple drownings.
 Inspect your equipment
Before every trip you should perform a safety check of your vessel. It is your responsibility to make sure you have all the required equipment on board such as life jackets, throwable device, certificate of number (state registration), fire extinguisher, visual distress signals, sound producing devices and whatever additional items Federal and your state’s laws require. Check your engine, ventilation, backfire flame arrestor, electrical systems and trailer before you go. Take advantage of free vessel safety checks offered in your area by boating-related agencies. See Federal Boating Requirements at
 Intoxication and water: a deadly combination
When underwater and under the influence of alcohol or drugs you can suffer from an inner ear condition (caloric labyrinthitis) that causes disorientation and you won’t know which way is up. Boaters can develop “boater’s hypnosis” a condition in response to sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion that causes fatigue and slows your reaction time. Combining that condition with alcohol or drugs greatly reduces your coordination, judgment and reaction time, which could lead to deadly consequences.
 Steer clear of commercial vessels
Commercial vessels have to stay within the navigation channel on rivers. An average towboat pushing barges can take ¾ to 1½ miles to come to a stop. If you can’t see the pilot, he or she can’t see you, because a commercial pilot’s blind spot can extend for several hundred feet to the front and sides of the vessel. Click here to learn more about how to properly lock through.
 Watch your children
Your child to reach overboard or turn the boat key to see what might happen so be alert. It can take less than 10 seconds for a child to drown so always make them wear a life jacket and never take your eyes off them around water.

Safe Swimming

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 Don't depend on floating or air-filled toys
There is no substitute for a life jacket, especially if you are a weak or non-swimmer. Inflatable toys like water wings are not dependable to keep children afloat and can deflate in seconds. Inflatable rafts or inner tubes can easily float into deep waters and might slip away from you or your child unexpectedly. The consequences could be fatal.
 Learn to swim well and practice floating
Besides wearing a life jacket, learning to swim well is one of your best defenses against drowning. Also, teach those you love and practice simple survival floating skills; remembering how to relax and float when exhausted can save your life. Swimming in natural or open waters is not the same as swimming in a pool. The USA Swimming Foundation works with local partners to offer free swimming lessons. Find a location near you at

 Never dive in open waters, lakes or rivers
Open water situations where water depth is unknown and conditions are constantly changing with floating or underwater debris, can be very dangerous. You never know what might lie unseen so only dive in the deep end of a swimming pool.
 Obey all signs and buoys
Many times accidents, injuries and fatalities could have been prevented if the victim followed the posted signs or buoys. Eighty percent of those who drown while swimming are outside of a designated swim area. Swimming within the buoys marking designated swim areas is the safest place, especially where rescue equipment or lifeguards are located. Remember, you swim at your own risk on Corps-managed waters because lifeguards are not present.
 Stay within your swimming ability and swim with a buddy
Regardless of how well you swim, you could have to fight for your life if you meet up with unexpected conditions such as waves, current or exhaustion. A fellow swimmer can help you out when you encounter the unexpected. Remember your swimming abilities are likely to decrease with age so don’t overdo it.