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Water Safety Frequently Asked Questions Banner

Frequently Asked Questions

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    Q. Why don't we have a national mascot for the water safety program?
    A. Several districts and lake projects around the country have developed their own mascot, one who is relevant to their area or local interests. Without a doubt, thousands of dollars have been spent by individual projects to costume their mascot, and lake personnel have built their campaigns around their specific character. At this point, we recognize that it would be difficult to select just one mascot to satisfy the Corps as a whole. The committee has been directed to stay away from trying to establish a national mascot.

    Q. Why are some districts allowed to purchase educational incentive giveaways and others aren't? Why doesn't the national program provide those?
    A. It is true that some districts have purchased items with water safety messages to give visitors, and they do it with the full support of their legal counsels and resource management offices. Unfortunately, legal opinions vary between districts on whether these items fall into the category of having "personal value" which is prohibited. Technically, the only way to identify what has personal value is through a Comptroller General (CG) decision.

    Q. What types of safety promotional products can we give to the public?
    A. The Director of Resource Management has issued significant policy and guidance regarding the purchase and public distribution of nominal value educational materials. This policy clarifies the use of appropriated funds for purchasing safety promotional materials that can increase our ability to reach the public with key safety messages and further the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers water safety mission.

    Q. Who is Ranger Willie B. Safe?
    A. Park Ranger Willie B. Safe (WBS) was brought to the national program by Wappapello Lake staff in 1998, and was featured in some nationally distributed products for a short period of time. As explained by Wappapello's park rangers who developed the program to provide a humanistic approach to promoting water safety, Ranger WBS is not a mascot, but represents the spirit of safety that all rangers carry. They feel that WBS unites rangers under one name that children can relate to and easily remember; and any ranger in a uniform wearing a life jacket can portray Ranger WBS. Ranger Willie's thumbs-up "Be Safe" sign is his/her signature message. The Willie B. Safe campaign was offered on a test basis in the FY 98-99 catalog, but was subsequently not adopted as part of the national program. This effort is a good example of great ideas being developed in the field and shared with others throughout the Corps. Products for this campaign can be procured through the Wappapello office.

    Q. Where do the product ideas come from?
    A. YOU! Committee members or division representatives bring ideas to the table - many of which come from field rangers and managers. The reps are essential for introducing ideas for tools to be developed and distributed in the program. The grassroots element of this committee is not by accident. The product end-users are the best ones to tell us what they need for their annual water safety efforts. Your job as a member of the Corps team is to speak up about your needs, dislikes, and ideas to your local representative. This is true whether you are in the natural resources, public affairs, or safety arenas of the Corps.

    Q. Will all my ideas be used?
    A. Hopefully, but really that depends on how timely, expensive, and global your idea proves to be.

    • Timeliness is important so that we continue to deal with what is current. While the committee does like to "look ahead" for issues on the horizon, our job is to watch what is challenging our safety efforts today. We also attempt to stay timely with products that meet equipment standards (such as computer capabilities) that are common in our field locations right now.

    • Expensive product development or procurement rapidly impacts our annual budget. It is important for this committee to always seek out the "bang for the buck" products that enable us to meet national demand effectively.

    • Thinking globally is always expected. Each of you brings a regional or local perspective to a program that must meet the needs of a larger audience. We ask our committee folks to really hear what is being said around the meeting table from the other representatives, and help the team make wise decisions that serve a broader scope of need.

    Q. When I place an order for products, sometimes I don't get all that I ordered. Why is this?
    A. The products offered in the Water Safety Catalog are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Quantities are limited because we work with a controlled budget amount for product development and distribution; we cannot possibly meet the demand that exists. It is important to place your order at the earliest possible date, and to limit quantities to what you truly need for the current year's program. We ask that you don't try to become your own warehouse and hoard products for the following year.

    Q. Why don't Corps swimming areas have lifeguards?
    A. U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Policy on the Use of Lifeguards at Designated USACE Swimming Areas is contained in ER 1130-2-550, paragraph 2-2 n:

      "Lifeguard services are not provided at public use area administered by the Corps. Planning and safety regulations, however, do require proper signing and notification to the public regarding water safety, lack of lifeguards and safety equipment. Lifeguard services may be provided by other agencies at outgranted swimming areas."

    The above policy was established based on personnel ceiling constraints and O&M funding limitations. Existing data shows that the majority of drownings at Corps water resource projects occur at other than at designated swimming areas (in 1998, 90% of the fatalities occurred at non-designated swimming areas).

    The above statistic, along with restricted personnel ceilings, indicate that greater management efficiencies and public service can be achieved through water safety patrols, on-site water safety programs and off-site outreach programs to schools and civic organizations. Corps park rangers conduct many water safety programs throughout the year. The Corps has an active national water safety campaign to support the lake projects in conducting water safety programs and activities. The Corps has a national Water Safety Operations Center and a standing Water Safety Committee dedicated at reducing the number of fatalities at Corps projects. The Operations Center and Committee conduct accident analysis and produce products (posters, brochures, etc.) and services for use at all Corps lakes. The theme of many of these products has dealt with swimming safety. The Corps partners with many organizations including the Coast Guard Auxiliary, water safety councils, state and local agencies in order to further leverage resources and better communicate the water safety message to all users.

    The Corps has an extensive outgrant program where many recreation areas (1853 areas- 43% of the total) are leased to other agencies and non-governmental entities. The Corps regulation allows the use of lifeguards at these outgranted areas

    Q. What are the parameters of this Corps Life Jacket Mandate Study?
    A. There are no pre-determined "parameters" identified for this proposal; in other words, it has not been determined that a regulation requiring life jacket wear would apply to all water-based recreational activities or more specifically a condition or activity such as boats underway or swimmers in non-designated areas. The final recommendations presented to MG Riley will define conditions or activities that should be included if a policy change is to be implemented.

    Q. How can I as a Corps employee voice my personal opinion on this Life Jacket Mandate Study?
    A. In addition to questionnaire that went to District points of contact for their input, a brief version of that questionnaire is available on the Gateway for employees to anonymously share their input.

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