Blue Marsh Lake, a place where many like to visit and spend beautiful summer days in Berks county, Pennsylvania. People travel from far and wide to visit this lake, an Army Corps of Engineers project for several reasons. Two of which are it allows open swimming, and probably the biggest draw is that you can ride your Jet Ski fast!
Given all of it's visitors, things are bound to happen. Being on the water comes with a risk. As of 2019 there was a news article published by Penn Live highlighting a 21 year old male who became the 15th known drowning victim at Blue Marsh Lake. The author of this article looked back at drownings since 1980 that were reported by the Reading Eagle.
We are now at the end of 2023 and has been drownings since then. So what is the current number?
This is what we found.
This makes 18 total drownings at Blue Marsh Lake to the date of the blog (11/6/23).
"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced today that more than 30 people lost their lives to drowning in June at lake and river projects the agency manages. The June statistics represent a 47 percent increase in drownings over the same time period last year. USACE also reported that nearly all the drowning victims were adult males between the ages of 18 and 85 and were not wearing a life jacket at the time of the drowning."
The bottom line here is you need to know your limits. You need to watch your friends. You need to respect the water. If you can't swim, or can't swim well, be HONEST about it. There is no shame in not wanting to drown and die an early and tragic death. Wear a PFD! Come on guys, just wear the damn life jacket! Seriously. It doesn't take much to get tired while open water swimming and unlike swimming in a pool you can't see the bottom, you can't easily grab a wall, you won't reach bottom in a couple of feet and be able to push off to rocket to the surface. These are things that might catch you by surprise if you don't have experience being in open water. When people get surprised like this it is easy for panic to set in.
Here is a term you might not know, "shallow water blackout" or "hypoxic blackout". This is when a person hyperventilates either intentionally or from over exertion and holds their breath, leading to a blackout.
This should go with out saying, but - don't swim while high or intoxicated - just don't do it. Keep in mind this lake can get crowded, it is also huge - both of these factors make it east to lose sight of people you are trying to keep an eye on. Drownings happen quickly with unforgiving consequences.
Be safe - have fun - but above all don't lose your life on what is supposed to be a fun filled enjoyable day on the water with family and friends.