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With summer here and the kids out of school, there will be plenty of water-related action around the pools and in the Gulf.

It is also when the men and women of the Marco Island fire-rescue department join with the local YMCA and U.S. Coast Guard to teach a "water-wise" course to third graders at Tommie Barfield Elementary School.

"The purpose of the course is to make the students aware of how to be safe around the home and when on a boat or at the beach," said firefighter/paramedic Chris Bowden.

Part of the course is familiarizing youngsters with how to react in case of an emergency, making them aware of what could be used for a floatation device – like the water noodles or other popular floating devices.

Stressing the need for wearing personal floatation devices is emphasized strongly.

The Marco Island Sail and Power Squadron also is promoting its "Wear It!" campaign this summer, hoping to raise awareness of the need to utilize safety equipment like lifejackets to avert a tragedy on the water.

Joel Frysinger, programs director for the Greater Marco YMCA, praised the efforts of the agencies involved.

"This is just a wonderful program that benefits so many here in our community," said Frysinger.

Life rings donated

While teaching the course to the third graders, members of the Marco fire-rescue employees noticed that the life rings around the YMCA pool are starting to show their age. They went back to their members and the fire department union agreed to purchase new rings for the pool from their treasury.

When the union members went to the local Pinch-A-Penny Pool Supply store, they were met with a big surprise. Hearing about the efforts of the department, owners Rusty and Sherri Johnson donated six new life rings for presentation to the YMCA staff.

"We can't thank Rusty and Sherri enough for this generous gesture on their part to help continue a safe environment for both children and adults," said Capt. Chris Crossan of fire-rescue department.

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