USACE Galveston District urges safety over July 4th holiday; flexes lock, floodgate schedule

Published July 2, 2014

GALVESTON, Texas (July 2, 2014) – As the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District prepares for a busy 4th of July (a holiday known for drinking and boating and deadly accidents), the district urges the public to put safety first and become water aware when participating in water-related recreational activities.

Additionally, to accommodate the increased recreational boating traffic during the holiday weekend, the district will open the Colorado River Locks and Brazos River Floodgates on demand beginning July 4 at 6 a.m., returning back to normal operations July 6 at 6 p.m. (which limits swing gates to opening every hour on the hour).

According to Colorado River Lockmaster Simon DeSoto, USACE Galveston District, drowning is a leading cause of accidental deaths and notes that the number of deaths by drowning could be significantly reduced if everyone would wear a life jacket while recreating on the water.

“Statistics show that 89 percent of those who drown at USACE lakes and rivers may have survived if they had worn a life jacket,” said DeSoto. "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."

DeSoto urges those who will enjoy outdoor water activities this holiday weekend to keep the following tips in mind:


  1. Swimming in open water is more difficult than in a swimming pool. Even the best swimmers can misjudge the water and their skills when boating and swimming. Conditions can change quickly in open water so before entering the water wear a life jacket.
  1. While on or near the water watch your children. It only takes 20 seconds for a child to drown. Many people believe that if someone is drowning they will yell for help, which is not correct. Several people drown each year within 10 feet of safety because the people around them did not recognize they were drowning. The four signs of a drowning victim include head back, gasping for air, no yelling and arms slapping the water. 
  2. Boaters should be aware of a silent and invisible killer while boating. Carbon monoxide can accumulate anywhere in or around boats regardless of what type of boat is being operated. Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include eye irritation, headache, nausea, weakness and dizziness. Install and maintain carbon monoxide detectors on and inside your boat. Maintain a fresh circulation of air through and around the boat at all times. Avoid areas around boats where exhaust fumes may be present.
  3. Be aware of rip currents at beaches. Rip currents (strong, narrow currents flowing from the shore out to sea) are the leading surf hazard for all beachgoers. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, more than 80 percent of water rescues on surf beaches are due to rip currents. Beachgoers caught in a rip current should swim parallel to the shore line (perpendicular to the rip current), swimming out of the rip current, not against it. 
  1. Implement these water safety tips. Whether recreating at a USACE lake, on a beach or swimming in a pool, remember to implement these safety tips the next time you’re out on the water. To find a USACE project near you visit

As the leading provider of outdoor recreation on all federally-managed public lands in the U.S., the Corps has a dedicated focus on water safety by encouraging the public to put safety first and become water aware when participating in water-related recreational activities. The district routinely partners with organizations throughout the year to educate and help reduce public fatalities and improve public safety at its lakes, recreational areas and public facilities.

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Release no. 14-032