The Sea Tow Foundation – a national nonprofit dedicated to the education and awareness of safe boating practices – announced that it has partnered with an additional 87 organizations and agencies to add new or restock existing Life Jacket Loaner Stations for the 2020 Summer boating season.
With more than 650 Life Jacket Loaner Stations already located throughout the United States, the Sea Tow Foundation is also offering tips and guidelines for boaters using life jackets from a loaner station, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Many agencies and organizations depend on our experience and knowledge in boating safety and our expertise in life jacket loaner programs,” said Gail Kulp, executive director of the Sea Tow Foundation. “Since the virus has impacted all of us in one way or another, we know it is important to provide guidance to boaters that want to borrow life jackets from our loaner stands. We want to continue to ensure that drownings can be prevented through loaner life jackets that are available to be borrowed at no cost.”
With the health and safety of boaters and life jacket loaner station hosts in mind, the Sea Tow Foundation is providing the following tips and guidelines for consideration:
- 1. Follow local and state guidelines regarding closures of beaches, boat ramps, marinas, and other locations that have traditionally provided life jacket loaner stations. If one of these locations is closed, a loaner station previously located there will not be available.
- 2. Do not go boating or spend time in public if you have a fever or are feeling sick.
- 3. Wear your life jacket if you go boating and ensure that children under age 13 are wearing their life jackets while the boat is in motion as required by the U.S. Coast Guard.
- 4. Be sure to also follow the other Sea Tow Foundation social distancing tips while boating.
The Sea Tow Foundation has also provided some general cleaning and disinfecting guidelines for cleaning life jackets.
“We consulted Onyx Outdoors, the manufacturer we purchase our loaner life jackets from, as well as representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, who oversee our grant for the life jacket loaner program, to help develop signage and language to include on every loaner station,” Kulp noted. “Stickers are being provided to each loaner station host in the coming weeks and new loaner station signage will be printed with the wording already on it.”
All Sea Tow Foundation life jacket loaner stations will contain the following language: “Life jackets are provided for the community. Each user who borrows a life jacket is obligated to inspect the life jacket prior to use and to return it clean and in good working order for the next user. These life jackets are not inspected or maintained after each use. Life jackets are borrowed at your own risk.”
Through its Life Jacket Loaner program, the Sea Tow Foundation has distributed more than 65,000 life jackets to local businesses, agencies and organizations across the country since 2008 to develop life jacket loaner programs in their local areas.
The more than 650 life jacket loaner stations currently in operation are placed in locations where boaters will have easy access to the life jackets, such as boat ramps, marinas, and parks. Boaters may borrow the life jackets at no cost and are asked to return them when they are finished so that they are available for others to use.