Sea Tow Foundation launches new life jacket loaner stations

The Sea Tow Foundation – a national nonprofit dedicated to the education and awareness of safe boating practices – announced today that it will be working with 154 organizations and agencies to establish new Life Jacket Loaner
Stations and restock existing stations for the 2021 summer boating season, as part of the Foundation’s ongoing efforts to keep boaters safe.

With more than 750 Life Jacket Loaner Stations already located throughout the United States, the Sea Tow Foundation is providing 50 life jacket loaner station building kits to organizations, agencies and businesses across the country to set up new loaner stations. This expansion allows the Foundation to now cover 47 of the 50 states across the country as well as a number of the US territories.

“Many agencies and organizations depend on our experience and knowledge in boating safety and our expertise in life jacket loaner programs,” said Gail R. Kulp, executive director of the Sea Tow Foundation. “We want to continue to ensure that drownings can be prevented through loaner life jackets that can be borrowed and returned at no cost.”

These stations are made possible by donations and corporate sponsorships, as well as grant funds provided through the U.S. Coast Guard’s Sport Fish Restoration & Boating Trust Fund. This is the 14th consecutive year of grant funding for this program.

Thanks to the record number of boaters in 2020, the requests for life jackets far outnumbered the Foundation’s available grant funds. Organizations, agencies and businesses requested over 12,000 life jackets yet only 8,340 could be ordered with the funding available. However, the Sea Tow Foundation is proud to make sure that all eligible organizations and agencies that applied will receive life jackets this year even if they don’t get as many as they may have requested. Tax deductible donations are always welcome to help the Sea Tow Foundation purchase more life
jackets and they can be made securely online at www.boatingsafety.com/donate.

One option that the Sea Tow Foundation provides to help organizations and agencies bridge the gap in the number of additional life jackets needed is to utilize the Life Jacket Drive program. This program allows groups to collect new and gently used life jackets from the public to repurpose in loaner stations. These donated life jackets can come from boaters who have extra life jackets or whose children have outgrown a specific size of life jacket. The Sea Tow Foundation provides the resources and materials needed to help anyone set up a Life Jacket Drive at no charge in their local community. The Life Jacket Drive program also allows boaters who have excess life jackets to contact the Sea Tow Foundation to be matched with a nearby life jacket loaner station host who can repurpose their donated life jackets on the loaner stations.

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Through its Life Jacket Loaner program, the Sea Tow Foundation has now distributed more than 83,000 life jackets to local businesses and organizations across the country since 2007. Loaner stations 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.

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