BoatU.S. Foundation opens 34 new children’s life jacket loaner sites

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The BoatU.S. Foundation Life Jacket Loaner Program is adding 34 new sites to its nationwide program that provides a simple way for parents to borrow a properly-sized children's life jacket at launch ramps, marinas and waterfront businesses, according to a press release from the organization Wednesday. A partnership with West Marine funded 19 of the sites.

Since its inception eight years ago, the program has saved the lives of at least three children. It is estimated that BoatU.S. life jackets are loaned out more than 50,000 times a year.

"We make it easy to keep kids safer while boating by bringing children's life jackets right to the waterfront where boaters need them and they are absolutely free," said Chris Edmonston, director of boating safety for the BoatU.S. Foundation. "Sometimes it gets pretty hectic preparing for a weekend of boating, and boat owners may forget about extra life jackets needed for young boating guests. Also, kids grow so quick that they may not fit last year's life jacket. That's where we step in by providing the right sized life jacket at over 350 sites across the country. Once the family is done enjoying the water, they simply return the jacket.”

The Foundation provides each new loaner site with a "kit" of 12 life jackets (a selection of infant, child and youth jacket sizes), protective storage bin, sign-out sheets and program signage, allowing hundreds of children all summer long to safely enjoy an afternoon, day or weekend on a boat with their families and friends.

Businesses or organizations interested in participating in the Life Jacket Loaner Program can next apply to the program in the fall of 2005.

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