News: USACE Galveston District summer water safety campaign in full swing
Story by Isidro Reyna
GALVESTON, Texas – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District’s Water Safety Team is gearing up to “strike out drowning” this summer as part of an aggressive community outreach and public information campaign to educate those who use its recreational facilities, to enhance the commitment of community leaders and stakeholders in executing its mission of promoting public safety and to reduce water-related public fatalities along the Texas coast.
On May 18, district staff and USACE Water Safety Mascot Bobber the Water Safety Dog will participate in the Sugar Land Skeeters Minor League Baseball team’s "Emergency Response Night" to provide the public with information regarding drowning prevention and will participate in a variety of water safety events throughout the month.
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 putting “safety first” and becoming “water aware” when participating in water-related recreational activities.
“The arrival of the summer months brings an increased level of outdoor activities throughout the State of Texas, especially with outdoor recreation involving water activities on public beaches, swimming pools, boating and other aquatic-related activities,” said Col. Christopher W. Sallese, Galveston District commander. “The Corps understands the important role that education plays in saving lives and requests the assistance of community leaders, volunteers and the public to partner with us to help reduce public fatalities and improve public safety at our lakes, recreational areas and public facilities.”
Most recently, the district together with Safe Kids Greater Houston, kicked off the summer 2013 water safety season and announced a newly-formed partnership with Spanish-language media outlet Telemundo at its 8th annual April Pools Day media event at the Houston Swim Club April 1.
Together with Telemundo, the Safe Kids Houston Water Safety Coalition filmed and produced water safety public service announcements that will be broadcast in the greater Houston area and will provide television interview opportunities to educate the public about water safety throughout the summer months. Additionally, Spanish-language billboards will be placed throughout the city reminding parents to watch their children when near water.
“Each year, we work to expand our partnerships with organizations that are dedicated to improving water safety in our communities and informing the public about ways to prevent and reduce water-related fatalities,” said Sallese. “We will continue to seek the support of community leaders and local organizations to maximize outreach efforts and educate residents and visitors about drowning prevention.”
As part of a partnership formed between Bass Pro Shops and the Corps, the USACE Galveston District has teamed up with store locations in the greater Houston area to teach water safety seminars about the important steps of choosing and fitting a life jacket and useful tips to be safe on the water.
The seminars entitled “Wear it Right” and “Safe Passage” will take place May 18, 19, 25 and 26 at both the Katy and Pearland, Texas, Bass Pro Shops locations.
Upcoming water safety events in the USACE Galveston District include:
May 4 – “Make a Splash” event in partnership with Safe Kids Greater Houston at the Cinco Ranch High School Natatorium (Katy, Texas)
May 6-10 – Bay Area Council Boy Scouts of America's annual Learning for Life Program at the Texas City Library Park (Texas City, Texas)
May 18 – Sugar Land Skeeters Minor League Baseball Team "Strike Out Drowning" water safety and hurricane preparedness event at the Skeeters Stadium (Sugar Land, Texas)
May 18-19 – “Wear it Right” seminars at Bass Pro Shops (Katy and Pearland, Texas)
May 25-26 – “Safe Passage” seminars at Bass Pro Shops (Katy and Pearland, Texas)
As part of the water safety campaign, the Corps has partnered with local governments across Texas in order to proclaim May as USACE Galveston District’s Water Safety Month.
On May 6, the Matagorda County Commissioners Court will present USACE Galveston District with a proclamation supporting the Corps’ efforts to communicate water safety information to families, whether owners of private pools, users of public swimming facilities or visitors to Texas beaches and water parks. Additionally, Fort Bend County, Texas, is tentatively scheduled to present a similar proclamation May 14, as well as the City of Bay City, Texas, May 9.
“We encourage residents to raise their awareness of water recreation safety issues and participate in water-safety programs conducted by trained and certified professionals,” said Kristine Brown, park ranger and USACE Galveston water safety program manager. “It is imperative that we educate the public about water safety, as drowning is the number two fatality in the U.S. for children 13 and younger with vehicle accidents being number one.”
Brown, Corps park rangers and USACE Galveston District staff continually provide water safety tips and lifejacket demonstrations to the public through outreach activities scheduled throughout the year and are available as guest speakers upon request.
Contact Brown at Kristine.N.Brown@usace.army.mil for more information about the upcoming water safety events. For more information and tips on water safety, visit the USACE website at http://watersafety.usace.army.mil/ or http://www.swg.usace.army.mil/BusinessWithUs/PublicAffairsOffice/WaterSafetyProgram.aspx. To learn more about Safe Kids Greater Houston, visit http://www.safekidsgreaterhouston.org/.