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Families Benefit From Safety Course, Life Jacket Giveaway
These happy and safe swimmers are residents from Riverbank that understand the importance of water safety and wearing a life jacket. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

The water dangers in the rivers, lakes and pools should be taken very seriously this summer and with several fatal incidents already occurring in the vicinity, the time for a Water Safety Education and Life Jacket Giveaway could not have come at a better time for families.

There were several different agencies involved with making this event a success, including the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol, Doctors Medical Center, Turlock Family Resource Center, Stanislaus County Police Activities League, and Oak Valley Hospital.

The event was held at Woodward Reservoir at the life jacket loaner station in Oakdale and began at 1 p.m. on Friday, June 23. People were lined up prior to 1 p.m. and in half an hour they had already distributed 40 life jackets.

The first station in the special water safety course was provided by Safe Kids Stanislaus County led by Doctors Medical Center. They had a Pool Safety station set up where RN, BN, CEN, Rena Lepard gave families information on what is safe and not safe at a swimming pool. They had handouts that parents could take home regarding prevention of childhood injuries, where it is safe to swim provided by the American Red Cross, and facts about the dangers of drowning. Along with the information guests were given a Safe Kids wristband and small first aid kit in a little pouch.

The handout distributed by Safe Kids explained that families need to understand the risks, practice water safety, and know how to respond to an aquatic emergency. One of the parents’ misconceptions explained was that nearly half of parents surveyed think that if a child was drowning nearby, they would hear it. The reality of it, officials explained, was that drowning is often silent, as there may be very little splashing, waving, or screaming.

The group then moved to the CPR station where a staff member from Oak Valley Hospital gave a few lifesaving lessons with demonstrations on a device that they provided that simulated a person. Kids and adults were following instructions on how to properly position hands and how to properly compress the chest.

After the group completed the CPR station they moved on to an area where Community Service Officer Melissa Hardy weighed each child to properly fit them for a free life jacket.

This is the first time that Hardy has organized the event which is funded by a grant from the California State Department of Health “Kid Plates.” There were 300 life jackets available for the youth that participated in the event on a first come first served basis.

The final stop after being weighed and receiving the proper life jacket was to wear it. Law enforcement was there to help all the youngsters get fitted right into their life jackets.

The Water Safety Course was filled with information that was shared like the fact that almost 800 children drown in the United States every year and that two-thirds of these deaths occur during May through August.

Several people made their way to the reservoir with their life jackets securely fastened ready to enjoy the water safely.