News Stories

John H. Kerr Rangers Earn South Atlantic Division Water Safety Awards

Published Nov. 13, 2018

  Two Wilmington District rangers were awarded the South Atlantic Division (SAD) Outstanding Individual Water Safety Award for their outstanding commitment, dedication, and contribution to the program.

   Ranger David Schwartz and seasonal ranger Jerry Jarman, both of John H. Kerr Dam and Reservoir, practice water safety year-round.  While most attention to water safety is given during the warmer months, Schwartz and Jarman see each day as a time to be mindful of what to do when in and around the water.  Schwartz points out the difference between the warm and cold seasons.

  “Hypothermia and cold water emersion are obviously much more apparent in the fall/winter timeframe, but experiencing extremely cold water and difficult swimming conditions can occur at any time of the year, thus why learning to swim and wearing a life jacket year-round is so important,” said Schwartz.  “You never know when you are going to be exposed to unexpected cold water and life threatening water conditions.”

      “If you fall into cold water with a life jacket on and can't be immediately rescued, try to remain calm and get into the ‘huddle position’, meaning bring your legs up and arms in and huddle in place, trying to preserve and maintain your internal body temperature. If you don’t have a life jacket on and you fall in, still get in the huddle position, but try to keep your head up and out of the cold water,” he said. 

  Jarman, a retired deputy sheriff with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, has seen his share of fatalities at lakes, in rivers and other bodies of water.  He firmly believes that most drowning’s can be prevented by simply wearing a Personal Floatation Device (PFD).

   “I’m proactive in the summertime when I’m patrolling beach areas,” he said.  “I pass out water safety pamphlets and tell parents to pay close attention to their children, even if they’re in shallow water.  And not to scare them, but also explain to the parents how hard it was in my previous job to tell a parent or a loved one that a family member had drowned when I felt if they had taken better safety precautions it could have been avoided.”

   Schwartz said that during hunting season he advises those on the water not to operate their boats while drinking. In addition, even though they’re bulky, he advises hunters and fishermen to leave their PFDs on.   

   “I think most Sportsman understand the risk of cold water emersion and the benefits of wearing a PFD, especially in the fall and winter.  No giant fish or beautiful duck is worth not coming back home to your family.”