I recieved the following press release from the United States Coast Guard Auxillary that stresses the importance of wearing life jackets while out on the water, particluarly children.
The release announces details of this years “Kids Don’t Float” program that will be instituted in Monmouth County for the first time by the Coast Guard Auxiliary, based at the USCG Station on Sandy Hook:
KIDS DON’T FLOAT, but if the US Coast Guard Auxiliary has its way they will. For many years the US Coast Guard and the US Coast Guard Auxiliary have been educating the public on the importance of all boaters using lifejackets, most especially children. In the State of New Jersey it is the law that children 12 years of age and younger must wear a lifejacket at all times while underway on the deck of any boat.
However preaching the obvious and getting results are two different things. Ten years ago a group called Safe Kids USA in Homer Alaska worked with the Coast Guard Auxiliary to establish a program of installing lifejacket loaner stations at local marinas. The concept is simple; they erected a rack on the waterfront and hung child size lifejackets on hooks. Boaters with children heading out on the water who did not have lifejackets could simply borrow one from the rack. It was understood that upon returning, the lifejacket would be returned to its hook ready for use by the next child.
The program was so successful that there are now 400 such sites across Alaska and the program has spread across the nation. Division 2 of District 1SR of the Coast Guard Auxiliary based at USCG Station Sandy Hook is instituting the KIDS DON’T FLOAT program here in Monmouth County. The first lifejacket station will be established at the Atlantic Highlands Marina, Atlantic Highlands, NJ.
The station and lifejacket rack will be erected on the waterfront in time to coincide with National Safe Boating Week May 16-23 2009. A ceremony establishing the station will be held on Saturday 16 May to kick off the program. The Division Honor Guard, local dignitaries, members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary and Active Duty Coast Guard representatives will join the boating public for this event.
Atlantic Highlands will be the first such station in our area and if as expected the program is successful other local marinas will receive stations too. The program will begin with six lifejackets available in children’s sizes. It is anticipated that the supply of jackets will grow through donations of local businesses and individuals. While it might be thought that offering these jackets for free with no deposit might lead to loss of the property, the experience in other areas has been that the supply of jackets actually tends to grow.
Nothing is more important to most of us than the safety of our children especially when they are engaged in as stimulating and satisfying an experience as boating. We invite and encourage all who are interested in boating and our kids to join us on Saturday, May 16th at 11 a.m. on the launch ramp at Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina to launch this program. This will also be a great opportunity for people to visit with their neighbors who are members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary and arrange for your complimentary Vessel Safety Check. Lets all start the season right for a fun and safe summer on the water.