An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Benjamin Franklin
In effort to escape the triple degree heat this weekend, my family and I made a trip east from our Placer County, California home and spent a day at Lake Tahoe. My toddler, who cannot yet swim, was equipped in her pink and gray life jacket while my husband and I were right by her side. As we are in the midst of summer, there were dozens of boats out on the lake and many children passengers. More kids were swimming in the lake, including youngsters under 5 that could not yet swim. I was astonished to realize that my child was one of only a handful of children wearing a life vest.
To many, it may seem that I am overreacting. But having grown up near two major rivers and a big fat lake, I have seen the all-volunteer Sacramento DART (Drowning and Accident Rescue Team) vessels searching for drowning victims more times than I can possibly count. Just this spring, my husband and I were cycling around Lake Natoma, when we had to stop for a series of emergency vehicles crossing the bike path to a lake access area. We saw DART vehicles and immediately knew a swimmer was lost. A young adult, Lisa, was standing by until her 23 year old fiancée was found in the lake. Without a life jacket, he unknowingly attempted to swim across a cold, deep, section of the lake to an island. Due to the cold water shock, and physical exhaustion, he succumbed and was recovered several hours later in water 30 feet deep. Perhaps a life jacket could have saved his life.
In the state of California, the law requires children under 13 to wear a life jacket unless they are in an enclosed cabin or under deck. Several agencies, including many local fire departments provide FREE lifejacket rentals for people of all ages. Perhaps many people do not know the dangers of drowning, and others are not aware of the life jacket program. Raising public awareness, by volunteering with a nonprofit or public agency, is where YOU can make a difference.
Whether it is water safety, public safety, or any other issue affecting your community, get involved and make a difference. Volunteers support nonprofits and public agencies by providing public outreach that they lack the resources to provide. For example, DART utilizes volunteers to raise public awareness about water safety and education by making presentations to K-12 school students or attending large events with a large public audience. Volunteers with special skills to coordinate operations are also needed, including open water divers, accountants, grocery clerks, security guards, and many more.
YOU can make a difference by volunteering to provide an ounce of prevention in YOUR community, through an agency or organization that is central to a cause you are interested in. Choosing an issue you are passionate about is imperative to maximizing your experience, as shared in my earlier post, “Find YOUR Passion and Volunteer.”
How are you making a difference through public awareness? Make YOUR difference in the world…Volunteer!