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Corps Strengthen Life Jacket Policy In Pilot Program

Staff Report

ENID – Four U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lakes in the Vicksburg District including Enid Lake will participate in a 3-year mandatory life jacket wear test program beginning next May. The other lakes include Sardis, Grenada and Arkabutla.

The new mandatory life jacket test program aims to address statistics that indicate public fatalities most often occur in accidents involving small classes of vessels and swimmers in non-designated swim areas.

The policy announcement comes just weeks after a late-August tragedy when a 14-year-old boy drowned on the north shore of Sardis Dam while swimming in a non-swimming area. Strong waves and wind were cited as contributing factors for this fatality.

The Corps new test program, which has been in the planning stages for some time,  will require anyone swimming in non-designated swimming areas to wear a Type I, II or III U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.

A second component of the program requires all persons on  powered vessels 16 feet in length to 26 feet in length to wear a Type I, II or III U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket whenever under power by the main propulsion unit.

All persons in a powered vessel less than 16 feet in length or non-powered vessels, regardless of length,  must wear a life jacket at all times.Non-powered vessels include, but are not limited to, canoes, kayaks, flat bottom/johnboats, sailboats and paddleboats.

    Another component of the test program requires the wearing of a Type I, II, or III US Coast Guard-approved life jacket at all times while skiing or being pulled by a vessel, regardless of vessel length.

    The new requirements will be in full effect beginning May 22, 2009 on the waters of Arkabutla Lake, Sardis Lake, Enid Lake, and Grenada Lake. For more information, you may contact the Mississippi Project Management Office at (662) 578-3873.

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