Water safety campaign targets sports fans

Park Ranger Christie Johnson and “Bobber the Water Safety Dog” educated boys and their fathers about water safety following the game at the Eugene Emeralds Scout Night. (Photo by Christie Johnson, Willamette Valley Project)

Park Ranger Christie Johnson and “Bobber the Water Safety Dog” educated boys and their fathers about water safety following the game at the Eugene Emeralds Scout Night. (Corps of Engineers photo)

 

Commentary and photos by Christie Johnson, Willamette Valley Project

Before and during the game, a Willamette Valley Project ranger and volunteers quiz sports fans about water safety and give out prizes. (Photo by Christie Johnson, Willamette Valley Project)

Before and during the game, a Willamette Valley Project ranger and volunteer quiz sports fans about water safety and give out prizes. (Corps of Engineers photo)

“In baseball, hitting a grand slam guarantees that everyone on base reaches home plate safely. When you’re boating, you can make sure everyone gets home safely by having everyone in your boat wear a life jacket.  This is a friendly reminder from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District.”

This clever message was announced over the loudspeaker during an Emeralds Baseball Game this past August as part of a Portland District campaign to promote water safety among sports fans – specifically to males ages 18-35.  According to recent statistics, this group is the most likely to drown while recreating at Corps reservoirs.

College Sports

For the past two years, Portland District has promoted water safety at University of Oregon and Oregon State University spring sporting events: ideal venues for sharing safety tips with our target audience.  During the games we used public service announcements, electronic videoboard displays, and 30-second radio commercials to catch the eyes and ears of Beavers and Ducks fans. Through a variety of messages, we encouraged them to wear their life jackets, swim in designated areas only, boat sober and avoid cliff-jumping.

During 2014 and 2015, we shared these messages at four spring football games, 15 baseball games, and one track and field event. They also were broadcasted on 10 different radio stations.  It’s hard to know how many people saw or heard our messages, but according to the University of Oregon, spring football games attract more than 45,000 attendees!

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers water safety messages are displayed on the Oregon State University video-board. (Photo by Christie Johnson, Willamette Valley Project)

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers water safety messages are displayed on the Oregon State University video-board. (Photo by Christie Johnson, Willamette Valley Project)

Emeralds Baseball

The Portland District also attended Boy Scout Night at the Eugene Emeralds Baseball Game last August to promote water safety to soon-to-be young men and their fathers.  In addition to public service announcements on the loudspeaker and video-board, we provided safety tips at an information table and participated in a radio interview with Matt Dompe of KUJZ FM 95.3 “The Score” during their live broadcast of the game.

One of the highlights of attending the game was the opportunity to introduce the Corps’ water safety mascot, Bobber the Water Safety Dog, to almost 4,000 baseball fans during the opening ceremony.  After the game, Bobber appeared again for photos, hugs and high-fives as scouts and their families came onto the field to camp overnight.  As the scouts set up their tents, Bobber cartoons played on the video board, teaching water safety while entertaining the boys.  (You can also view these cartoons at www.bobber.info.)

“Bobber the Water Safety Dog” and the Emerald’s mascot “Sluggo” entertained the crowd before the baseball game. (Photo by Christie Johnson, Willamette Valley Project)

“Bobber the Water Safety Dog” and the Emerald’s mascot “Sluggo” entertained the crowd before the baseball game. (Photo by Christie Johnson, Willamette Valley Project)

Working with local teams and universities is a great way to connect with the audience that needs to hear the messages most.   By potentially reaching over 200,000 sports fans, we can help ensure that visitors to our reservoirs make it home safely.