Fair Oaks Elementary students in Catherine Morman’s third grade class learned all about the importance of water safety through a program offered by the Knights Ferry branch of the US Army Corps of Engineers when Norm Winchester and his Siberian husky, Kaiya, visited the school site recently.
Aimed at young students, the roving program was presented within the school sites in Oakdale and Riverbank, in order to promote education about water safety.
Kaiya, the water safety mascot, was even wearing her own specialized safety vest.
Winchester, a natural resource specialist, used the 45-minute program to show a 15-minute water safety video that taught 10 basic safety tips, such as wearing a life jacket, learning to swim, and staying with the boat in an emergency situation, and then after a short quiz on what they’d learned, they went outside to play a life jacket game.
Seven students were picked to try and put on various life jackets or floatation devices within a certain time period to simulate an emergency situation.
There was plenty of laughter as the students attempted to figure out the life vests that ranged from state-of-the-art, updated models to archaic and outdated models.
Typically, the water safety program runs through February and March, just in time before the spring run-off and the water levels rise in the reservoirs and rivers.
“The life jacket game teaches the kids how to properly wear a life jacket,” Winchester said. “And the reason to wear a life jacket is you never know what’s going to happen.”
According to Winchester, the US Army Corps of Engineers in Knights Ferry offers a free life vest loaner program for anyone swimming in the Stanislaus River.
“We’d rather have kids out there with life jackets on than not,” he said.
Any school sites interested in having Winchester and Kaiya visit their classroom to talk about water safety are asked to call the Knights Ferry branch office at 881-3517, ext. 24.