Life jacket loaner program expanding in Charleston region August 24, 2017
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the Charleston Sail and Power Squadron and the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission are joining forces to bring a potentially life-saving program to Charleston County in September.
A new life jacket loaner board with bilingual signage instructing users in the proper use of life jackets will be placed at the John P. Limehouse Boat Landing.
On Friday, September 1 at 10 a.m., representatives from all three organizations will participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new "Life Jacket Loaner Board" station at the popular John P. Limehouse Boat Landing at the Stono River on Johns Island. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend the event, which will feature boating-safety oriented prizes and giveaways for youngsters (and adults) in attendance, as well as a visit from Zippit, the SCDNR's mascot for life jacket awareness. Event organizers would like to encourage everyone who participates to wear their lifejackets in support.
"The safety of the public while on the water is our number one priority," said SCDNR Lt. Kim Leverich, "and life jacket loaner stations provide people who need them with the greatest single tool we have to prevent accidental drowning - working life jackets. We think this will be a fun and informative event for the local community here in Charleston County!"
Since getting started in the mid-1990s, life jacket loaner boards have grown in popularity, and their use is spreading across the country. In June, SCDNR and Georgetown County officials celebrated the opening of a new loaner board in Murrell's Inlet, and the eventual goal is to expand the program to install loaner boards at heavily-used landing in all of South Carolina's 46 counties.
The loaner board concept is pretty simple. If, for whatever reason, you get to the landing and realize you don't have enough working life jackets for the people in your boating party, simply borrow one from the loaner board kiosk station and return it at the end of your outing. Research shows that most drownings could have been prevented if a life jacket had been worn by the victim. The life jacket loaner station will serve to increase the use of life jackets among the boating public, as well as educating people on the importance of proper use and fit of lifejackets. The program relies on the assistance of local groups such as Power Squadron chapters to assist with monitoring and restocking the loaner boards once they are placed.
The kiosk for the loaner boards includes detailed pictures and written instructions for properly fitting and buckling a life jacket on an adult or child in both English and Spanish. Volunteers with the Charleston Sail and Power Squadron will keep the station stocked with life jackets of various sizes for children and adults that can be borrowed while on or around the water and then returned for someone else to use. The time and effort of these volunteers is an important part of this program, and individuals involved with this effort will be recognized at the ribbon cutting.
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