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Where Can I Borrow A Life Jacket?
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During my continued research regarding life jackets and water safety I learned about a wonderful program offered by The BoatUS Foundation. Their program is called the Life Jacket Loaner Program. I would like to share with you a little bit about their program and how they can be of benefit to you or your organization.

What first caught my attention is the size of this program. They have expanded to over 350 loaner sites nationwide since inception in 1998. The program loans life jackets over 90,000 times a year! I encourage you to browse their website and take a look at their map of loaner sites. You will be impressed with the locations around the country. This map makes it very easy to locate the nearest loaner center to you. The contact information is readily available once you click on your choice of destination.

The focus of the program, in addition to providing loaner jackets to keep kids safe, is to educate both parents and kids alike on the importance of wearing the appropriate size and type of life jacket while boating. Life jackets look very similar, but each type is designed for a specific purpose and water condition. Your kids will enjoy learning firsthand from the professionals at the loaner center about water safety. Particularly for families who are only out on the water once or twice a year the benefits are wonderful. First, you do not have to worry about the added expense of life jackets - you can borrow them. Secondly, as discussed above you can refresh your water safety knowledge each year. Both of these benefits will lead to a great day on the water.

How the Program Works- The BoatUS Foundation will accept up to 40 new sites with each application cycle. They will then supply the group or organization with 12 new life jackets, some brochures, signs, and sign-out binder. They ask that the jackets be prominently displayed so that they will be used! Borrowers will sign the jackets out for free and then return them again in a prominent place when they have finished their day of fun on the water. Everyone wins! Especially the kids who have been kept safe and learned important water safety lessons.

To Support the Life Jacket Loaner Program - The BoatUS Foundation accepts tax-deductible contributions with which they will purchase a life jacket, or with a gift of $250 they can establish a new life jacket loaner program. If you would refer to the map once again you will notice along the coastlines there are a large number of loaner sites. Inland there are sites to be found but they are sparse. Clearly more donations are needed to birth more loaner sites enabling more life jackets to be available to children who will be participating in water sports throughout inland America. Here the benefit is two-fold. More kids are safe on the water and your organization can provide an excellent community service.

The BoatUS Foundation website offers easily accessible information on each state’s PFD’s (personal flotation devices) requirements. You will also find several videos and much additional information regarding water safety for the whole family.

Please if you are part of the tremendous boating community spread the word about this wonderful program. Encourage your local boating community to become a loaner site, as well as donate for the purchase of more life jackets. More and more neighbors are enjoying water sports each year. Let’s help keep all the children safe and be sure there are more than enough life jackets to go around!

Author Bio: Kris Galvin - Water Safety Advocate and Registered Nurse.


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