It is still a few week away from the official start of summer, but across the Great Lakes warm weather has already arrived putting boaters and swimmers back in the water; and members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District on the water safety offensive.
“We officially kicked off our 100 Days of Summer Safety campaign right before the Memorial Day weekend,” said Bill Pioli, Buffalo District safety manager. “Part of that campaign is to remind people that while they are having fun swimming and boating, they also have to keep safety as a priority. No one wants to end a day at the beach with a visit to the hospital.”
The Buffalo District staff were quick to get on board with the water safety theme by taking part in the National Safe Boating Council’s Ready, Set, Wear It event. As part of the event the staff simply wore their lifejackets to work. Emphasizing the simple concept that if you can wear it to work, you can wear it while on the water.
The outreach activities continued when Water Safety Manager Dave Swiatek visited the Charter School for Applied Technologies and talked with a class of fifth grade students.
“It is so important that we establish the concept of water safety at an early age with kids, especially given that water is such a huge part of Buffalo’s identity,” said Keith Banas, fifth grade teacher. “Having this relationship with the Corps of Engineers is tremendous. The kids love the presentation and the videos, the ability to ask questions, yet most of all they love the water safety items they can take back home and share with their family.”
Making water safety events memorable goes a long way to help get the message stick. So when the Miss Buffalo, a public cruise ship in Buffalo, NY, passed through the Black Rock Lock carrying 180 elementary students, Chief of Survey Roman Figler saw an opportunity and took advantage of it.
“One of our survey crew members was on the boat with his son and let me know that they would be coming through the lock. So I collected three bags full of water safety items, and while the boat was locking through I passed the items along,” said Figler. “Every kid in the class thanked us for the items; it was a great way to spread the water safety word.”
Three different water safety events, three different ways to engage and raise awareness on the importance of water safety, and the season has just begun.
“A small investment of time in assessing your surroundings, and planning your activities, yields a rich, safe future. Before heading out for a day on or near the water make sure you have life jackets for everyone and that you wear them clipped and zipped, Life Jackets Worn…Nobody Morn,” said Pioli.