GALVESTON, Texas (May 22, 2013) -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District is gearing up for a busy Memorial Day holiday along the Texas coast by stressing water safety awareness to all those who will enjoy outdoor activities this extended weekend.

Additionally, to accommodate the increased recreational boating traffic during the holiday weekend, the district will open the Colorado River Locks and Brazos River Floodgates for a 24-hour period, returning back to normal operations May 28 (which limit swing gates to opening every hour on the hour).

"It is crucial that we educate the public about water safety, as drowning is the number two fatality in the U.S. for children 13 and younger with vehicle accidents being number one," said Col. Christopher W. Sallese, USACE Galveston District commander. "The arrival of the Memorial Day holiday weekend will bring an increased level of outdoor activities throughout Texas, especially with outdoor recreation involving water activities at public beaches, in swimming pools, while boating and engaging in other aquatic-related activities."

According to Sallese, the Corps realizes the important role that education plays in saving lives and requests the public to wear life jackets and read warning signs when recreating on the water this busy weekend.

Since the beginning of the year, USACE Galveston District staff together with the Safe Kids Greater Houston Water Safety Coalition has engaged in an aggressive water safety campaign to minimize the potential for loss of life due to drowning. The campaign includes launching a series of public service announcements to inform visitors of Corps' recreation facilities how to prevent drowning, and partnering with community leaders, volunteers and the public to improve public safety at Corps' lakes, recreational areas and facilities.

Additionally, Spanish-language billboards have been strategically placed throughout the Greater Houston Area reminding parents to watch their children when near water.

"This year, 16 children and teens have already drowned in Texas, with nine in the Greater Houston Area," said Kristine Brown, natural resources specialist and park ranger for the USACE Galveston District. "We understand the important role that education plays in saving lives and we're working with our partners to extend our drowning prevention knowledge, skills, expertise and services to promote education and prevent downing."

USACE officials encourage visitors to check local water and weather conditions and pay attention to recreation warnings, such as river closures from local emergency services offices, prior to entering the water. Officials stress the single most important item a person can do on the water to reduce risk is to wear a life jacket. USACE will continue its efforts to promote boating and water safety and with the public's support will work to reduce the risk and save lives.

As part of a partnership formed between Bass Pro Shops and the Corps, the USACE Galveston District has teamed up with store locations in the Greater Houston Area to teach water safety seminars about the important steps of choosing and fitting a life jacket and useful tips to be safe on the water.

An upcoming seminar titled "Safe Passage" will take place at both the Katy and Pearland, Texas, Bass Pro Shops locations May 25-26 to educate the public about boating safety.

USACE is the nation's largest federal provider of outdoor recreation on all federally-managed public lands in the U.S. The USACE Galveston District has a long history of leading the way in safety initiatives for the protection of life and property and is available to assist in water safety educational engagements by calling USACE Galveston District Water Safety Program Manager Kristine Brown at 281-497-0740 or emailing Kristine.N.Brown@usace.army.mil.

To learn more about the USACE Galveston District's Water Safety Campaign, visit http://1.usa.gov/VGdlcx. To learn more about Safe Kids Greater Houston, visit http://www.safekidsgreaterhouston.org/. Find us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/GalvestonDistrict or follow us on Twitter, www.twitter.com/USACEgalveston.

Page last updated Wed May 22nd, 2013 at 00:00