Safe Kids Supports Life Jacket Loaner Program
By Stacie Jones
The warmer weather brings boaters from across the region to our beautiful lake here in Coeur d’Alene. Unfortunately, the joys of boating also bring an increased risk of drownings, especially among children. Safe Kids Kootenai County is aiming to reduce accidental drownings by supplying and maintaining two life jacket loaner stations at Third Street Boat Launch and Blackwell Island Boat Launch, two of the lake’s most active and busy launches.
All About Safety
“It’s all about safety,” said Donna Kalanick of Kootenai Health, the lead agency of Safe Kids Kootenai County. Safe Kids exists to prevent unintentional childhood injury, a leading killer of children 14 and under. “Promoting safe boating practices is another way we can better serve our water-rich community.”
The Safe Kids life jacket loaner program is part of a broader effort created in 2010 by the Idaho State Department of Recreation, which has installed more than 85 loaner stations statewide. The stations are stocked with U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets, ranging in size from infant to adult extra large. The public can use and return the life jackets free of charge. The stations also include instructions on how to properly fit a life jacket.
“The goal is to reduce the number of accidental drownings by having those life jackets available to boaters who might otherwise go out on the water without them,” said Bob Bjelland, a marine deputy with the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office, a partner in the Safe Kids Coalition. “Seventy-five percent of boating fatalities could have been prevented if the victim had been wearing a life jacket.”
New or used life jackets can be donated to the program at the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office.