Columbus Safe Kids hands out life jackets to ‘River Savvy Kids’

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Down by the Chattahoochee River, public health volunteers hosted a special party for families to learn the importance of life jackets while enjoying the river.

"We like to come down here to the river," says Jodi Dunn, a mother attending the 'River Savvy Kids' event. "Of course, we want to obey the law and we want my kids to be safe."

Hundreds of moms, dads and kids lined up along the river for a special, pirate-themed adventure.

The idea was brought to life by Safe Kids Columbus, a group looking out for the well-being of local children who will enjoy the great outdoors this summer.

"People love water, we love our river," says Pam Fair, the Director of Safe Kids Columbus.

In keeping with the pirate theme, families had to follow a treasure map along the RiverWalk.

Each family goes around to different stations, each represented by a marker on their map, where they learn a new piece of information about river safety. As families pick up stickers from each passed station, they will find the X that marks the spot.

The buried treasure the X shows them: a personally fitted life jacket for each child.

"You have to understand how to be safe, the importance of a life jacket; the importance of swimming with someone, not going in alone," says Fair.

Community partners and law enforcement agencies met with families at each station, talking about the need for a life jacket to prepare against the forces of nature.

"The flow of the water, especially in the Chattahoochee, is pretty strong. It can actually be the difference between life and death," says Ethan Franklin, a Warden with the Department of Natural Resources.

Experts also say there is a reason each child has to use a life jacket that properly fits them.

"Everyone's weight is different, everyone's chest size is different," said Cpl. Robert Greene with the Columbus Police Department. "So, we want to make sure we have the right sizes for them."

The community partners believe they will bring more families out to the river, educated and prepared to have safe fun.

Over 800 life jackets were given away to local families. They plan to collect more and give them away to children in future safety events.

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