August 13, 2015
Contact: Jason Ginder
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about ten people die from unintentional drowning every day, and of these, two are children aged 14 or younger. These statistics show drowning is the sixth leading cause of unintentional injury and death for people of all ages, and the second leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14 years. Drowning is also the leading cause of fatalities each year at Big Thicket National Preserve.
During the dog days of summer, many visitors to the Big Thicket seek out the creeks, rivers, and bayous as a way to cool off, relax and recreate. While these waterways offer opportunities for fishing, swimming and just all around fun, everyone must keep in mind the safety of themselves and others. Sadly, people drown every year in and around waterway like these. One of the easiest ways you can decrease your chance of drowning is by wearing a life jacket. Many people only think of wearing PFD’s (Personal Flotation Devise) during boating activities; but wearing a life jacket while swimming can save your life. Swimming with a life jacket on will not impair your ability to have fun or cool off; in may, in fact, make swimming more relaxing. There are many new styles of life jackets which have replaced the old-fashioned, orange bulky style of the past. We recommend that all visitors seek out a fit and style of life jacket that suits them and wear it whenever using any natural waterway.
Here are some additional tips to consider while enjoying the preserve’s waterways. Many of the waterways within the Big Thicket are remote and not easy for medical personnel to quickly access. With this in mind, one should not jump into the water, especially head first. Objects can be hidden under the water’s surface and cause severe injury or death. For this reason rope swings are illegal within Big Thicket and any that are found should be considered dangerous to use. Creeks and rivers may appear to be calm; however, they often have strong currents that can carry away even strong swimmers. This is especially true after it has rained. Avoid creeks and rivers after a significant rain event. Flooded waterways are unpredictable. Everyone should wear protective footwear while exploring natural waterways due to the possibility of unseen objects such as tree limbs, fishing hooks, and broken glass.
The waterways of Big Thicket are here for everyone’s enjoyment. Remember that an accident can happen at any time, and safety should be everyone’s top priority. If you need assistance while enjoying the preserve and find yourself in an emergency situation, please call 911.
Big Thicket National Preserve is located in southeast Texas, near the city Beaumont and 75 miles northeast of Houston. The preserve consists of nine land units and six water corridors encompassing more than 112,000 acres. The Big Thicket, often referred to as a “biological crossroads,” is a transition zone between four distinct vegetation types – the moist eastern hardwood forest, the southwestern desert, the southeastern swamp, and the central prairies. Species from all of these different vegetation types come together in the thicket, exhibiting a variety of vegetation and wildlife that has received national interest.
For general information about Big Thicket National Preserve, visit www.nps.gov/bith or call the preserve visitor center at 409-951-6700.