Gulf Coast Drownings Prompt Coast Guard Warnings

An Air Station Houston aircrew prepared to launch for a medevac of a man 57 miles off the Galveston coast, June 4, 2013. The crewmember of the oil tanker SPT Challenger sustained a broken leg during mooring operations with the vessel Peony. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Manda M. Emery) Read more:
Eleven people have died in the past two weeks from water-related activities along the Gulf Coast. U.S. Coast Guard officials urge caution as the summer boating — fishing and swimming season gets more active.

In several cases, people were swimming in areas with strong currents where posted signs warned not to swim there.

In another case, a man was wading in the surf, fishing with friends, and was swept away by a wave.

In all eleven cases, the U.S. Coast Guard was notified and conducted extensive search and rescue operations, but none of the missing were saved.

Petty Officer Steve Lehmann is a public affairs specialist with the Coast Guard's Houston office.

"From Memorial Day Weekend on into summer, we see a lot more people out on the water. And why wouldn't they be? The weather's a lot nicer, it's a lot warmer, people have boats and they want to use them. But one thing they really do need to keep in mind is their personal safety while they're out there."

Lehmann says one simple precaution beachgoers can take is to check weather and sea conditions ahead of time.

"If you go to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration website, or NOAA, they have weather conditions, sea conditions. They'll tell you how high to expect the waves to be, the water temperature, these are all important things to know when you're going out on the water or around the water."

According to the World Health Organization, drowning is the third leading cause of accidental death worldwide.

Rip Current signs

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...