Press Releases

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers encourages celebrating safely

Published June 27, 2017

MOBILE, Ala. - “July Fourth is a very special day in our Nation’s history and I hope it will be special day for you and yours.  As we near the Independence Day holiday, I’m sure most of you are looking forward to a day off to spend with family and friends. But, such outings are not without an increased risk of accidents,” explained U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Mobile District Commander, Col. James DeLapp.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District is responsible for 27 lakes that includes 429 recreation sites in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi that receive approximately 28 million visits each year.

Any of them are wonderful destinations to visit on the Fourth of July or any other day, weekend or week. And, at most of those recreation sites, you’ll find Corps’ Park Rangers hard at work, according to DeLapp. The Park Rangers have two areas of responsibility: practicing good stewardship of the public lands in their care, and promoting and protecting public safety.

“So, as we approach the Independence Day weekend and holiday, I’d like to recognize the 108 full-time and summer Park Rangers in the Mobile District, most of whom will be on duty this weekend and on July Fourth. They are there to make sure you, your family and friends remember your visit to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Recreation site because you had a great time rather than an unfortunate accident,” he said.

The Mobile District’s Park Rangers take pride in their efforts to provide visitors with safe outing opportunities. For example, again this year, Allatoona Lake in Cartersville, Ga., will host Operation Get Home Safe on July 3 and 4. The campaign focuses on boaters navigating crowded lakes after enjoying celebratory fireworks shows.

“Our slogan is ‘Watch the show and go slow,’” said Allatoona Lake Operations Project Manager, Jerry Fulton. “We encourage boaters to keep their speed below 20 miles per hour after the fireworks shows to reduce wake and allow for more reaction time. And, of course, we strongly encourage all boaters to wear life jackets.”

Boaters should always wear their life jackets, file a float plan with a friend or family member, have and know how to use their safety equipment, and have a designated boater, DeLapp said.

“Just to put things in perspective, more than 150 Americans drown each year at Corps parks. On average, about 89 percent of those who drown were not wearing a life jacket,” DeLapp said. “And, more than half of those drowning deaths at the Corps parks are swimming related.”

It takes only 60 seconds for an adult to drown and only 20 seconds for a child to drown, according to the USACE Water Safety website.

To help with water safety, some Mobile District recreation sites offer free boating safety courses and all of the sites offer free loaner life jackets on a first-come, first-served basis.

“Independence Day should be memorable because of what it represents and because you had a great outing with your family and friends, not because of a tragic accident,” DeLapp said. “We want everyone to have a happy and safe July Fourth so that they can return for more fun at our recreation sites in the future.”

For more information, click on the Mobile District’s Water Safety site at and

Lisa Hunter
(251) 690-2505

Release no. 17-019