Santa Rosa, N.M.’s semi-arid climate seemingly lacks water. However, the town is home to a dozen spring-fed lakes, and many are popular swimming and recreation destinations.
It’s also home to the regionally-known Blue Hole, popular with scuba divers, and Santa Rosa Lake. The District created the largest lake in the area with the construction of Santa Rosa Dam on the Pecos River in the late 1970s and early1980s.
Bob Mumford, a park ranger at the District’s Santa Rosa Dam, specializes in teaching water safety at Santa Rosa Elementary School. Mumford is affectionately known in the community as “Ranger Bob.”
Ranger Bob recently wrote and received a grant from ENMR, a local phone cooperative that has awarded grants to others in the community. The grant was used to purchase and distribute lifejackets and Whistles for Life to all the students at the elementary school.
Mumford presented 49 jackets and whistles to the Pre-Kindergarten and Headstart students April 4 and 244 jackets and whistles to the elementary school students April 5 in the school’s gymnasium.
As part of the grant, each child pledged to pass their lifejacket to one of their friends or family when it no longer fits them. The students also pledged to pass on the knowledge of how to wear and use it.
Before the jackets were given out, Mumford addressed the students, going over the five steps to properly wear a lifejacket.
Step one: Check the label. The label has the size and says if it is Coast Guard approved.
Step two: Check for damage. Look for any rips, tears and holes. Inspect the seams, fabric strap and hardware and make sure the belts and tie tapes are secure. There should not be any water-logging, mildew odor or shrinkage of the buoyant materials.
Step three: Fasten it up.
Step four: Check for a proper fit. To check for a good fit, pick the child up by the shoulders of the lifejacket. If the lifejacket fits, the child’s chin and ears will not slip through.
Step five: Wear it! It may only take 60 seconds for an adult to drown and 20 seconds for a child to drown without one, according to the Personal Floatation Device Manufacturers Association.
Mumford will retire this fall after more than 30 years of federal service, 23 of them at Santa Rosa Dam. He has taught water safety at the school since 1990. Several current teachers commented that they remember his water safety presentations from when they were in school.
“I wanted to do something special for the Santa Rosa kids before I retire,” Ranger Bob said. “The students have done so much for me.”