Making a Difference by Working Together at Carlyle Lake, St. Louis District
Carlyle Lake located in Illinois 50 miles from St. Louis, MO has an average of 1.74 million visits every year. At all of our lake and river projects visitors come to enjoy the outdoors and most of them spend time on, in, or near the water. Here are some of the things that are done at Carlyle Lake to help keep their visitors safe.
The Carlyle Lake staff maintains eighteen bulletin boards with water safety messages within their recreation areas and water safety billboards at the entrances of four recreation areas. Water safety banners and life jacket loaner stations are in place at boat ramps and beaches. A 5’x50’ banner was displayed throughout the recreation season on the main dam with the message “Always Wear Your Life Jacket.” Changeable message boards are located at a high visibility entrance to the lake and at entrances to recreation areas.
The Carlyle Lake’s Facebook page provides water safety messages to almost 15,000 followers. Snapchat water safety filters were created and utilized during special events and holiday weekends. In FY2017 the lake staff made 15,971 direct on-site and 1,905 direct off-site interpretive water safety contacts. The staff works with local communities and businesses to establish partnerships to promote water safety. The City of Carlyle and local businesses display water safety messages throughout the year on their changeable message boards. On major holiday weekends during the summer, businesses in cities surrounding the lake display water safety banners, table cards, and posters. Local restaurants placed water safety stickers on carry-out food boxes and bags. Area businesses including local animal hospital, camp store, and restaurants were provided Bobber the Water Safety Dog and Life Jackets Worn…Nobody Mourns water safety bags to use to place customer merchandise in. They partnered with restaurants and drinking establishments in surrounding communities to distribute water safety drink coasters. The coasters have the Life Jackets Worn…Nobody Mourns logo on the front with water safety tips on the back.
The Carlyle Lake staff participated in an annual county fair parade. The parade entry featured their patrol boat with Bobber the Water Safety Dog waving to parade watchers. Park rangers handed out water safety Frisbees and Bobber the Water Safety Dog activity booklets along the parade route. Bobber the Water Safety Dog along with his park ranger friends visited the local Walmart during the month of July to promote water safety. Customers were able to meet Bobber, take selfies with Bobber, and were given bags that included water safety promotional products.
By thinking outside the box, the Carlyle Lake staff has developed some unique ways to promote water safety. Partnering with the City of Carlyle and Max 96.7FM, a local radio station, the city purchased water safety beach towels to give out to those who call into the radio station and answer a daily water safety question. Lake employees visited the radio station and were on the air every Wednesday throughout the recreation season to talk about water safety and what was happening at the lake. At the conclusion of each program, listeners were given the opportunity to call in to answer a lake trivia question to win a water safety beach towel that was donated by the city.
They partnered with Excel Bottling Company, who is located close to the lake and produces Ski soda. Excel provided t-shirts that were given to high school students after they participated in water safety programs presented by park rangers at area schools. The t-shirt design has the popular Ski soda bottle wearing a life jacket and was a huge hit with the students. As part of the lake’s “I Got Caught Wearing My Life Jacket” campaign visitors caught wearing their life jackets are rewarded with t-shirts and ice cream treats donated by local businesses and restaurants.
Water safety promotion was taken to an entirely new level when they partnered with Med Star Ambulance Service. A Med Star ambulance that services the area displays the Life Jacket Mourns…Nobody Mourns campaign logo on both sides of the ambulance and water safety awareness wording on the back doors.
Promoting water safety takes some effort, and it’s worth it, because every life saved is priceless. The staff at Carlyle Lake does an outstanding job of promoting water safety in many different ways and building relationships with partners that helps them understand why it is important that they help promote water safety too. Over the past five years there has been one water-related fatality at Carlyle Lake. However, one fatality is too many and so the efforts continue.