By Lee Roberts
Bobber the Water Safety Dog invites kids to visit his water safety website to paws and play games, color, watch cartoons, and learn about the importance of wearing a life jacket!
The lovable water safety mascot for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Water Safety Campaign makes appearances with Corps park rangers across the nation at marinas, lake recreation areas, schools, youth events, and even outdoors stores to spread the water safety message.
Bobber sports a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket. Unfortunately, recent data barks out the need for the public to copy the water safety dog and wear a life jacket to help keep them safe while recreating on the water.
The Corps’ Water Safety Campaign reports that USACE is the nation’s leading provider of outdoor recreation with more than 420 lake and river projects in 43 states and over 370 million visitors per year.
In Tennessee and Kentucky, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District operates 10 lakes on the Cumberland River and its tributaries and hosts nearly 33 million visitors annually.
That figure is nearly double the annual visitors at Magic Kingdom, according to Wikipedia, so there are lots of young people that could be influenced to wear their life jacket at Corps lakes just by visiting and interacting on the Bobber website.
Lt. Col. James A. DeLapp, Nashville District commander, wrote a water safety commentary in May 2012 and said, “The best thing anyone can do to remain safe is to wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket and not an inflatable toy to keep safe.”
Park Ranger Amber Jones, a natural resource specialist at J. Percy Priest Lake in Nashville, Tenn., encourages kids to use free loaner life jackets at Corps recreation areas and for parents to pay close attention to children at all times when in and around the water.
Jones said she has assisted in the recovery of several drowning victims and those awful experiences motivate her to educate the public about how vital it is to wear a life jacket, especially kids who are swimming and playing at Corps lakes this recreation season.
“With small children it only takes 30 seconds to drown,” Jones said. “It’s very, very important to always have an adult watching the kids… and always expect the unexpected.”
Jones added that water is a two-edged sword. It can be fun and dangerous at the same time, so letting them learn how to have fun in a safe way is why Bobber’s website is a great learning tool.
Teddi Dineley Johnson wrote in Nation’s Health in June 2008 titled “Water safety: Be in the know around H2O” that “just as you wouldn’t ride a car without buckling your seat belt, or ride a bike without a helmet, you should never ride in a boat without a life jacket.”
The Corps encourages parents, guardians and family members to take water safety seriously and let kids visit the Bobber the Water Safety Dog’s website. The information and fun content may just save their life someday in the water.