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Noteworthy Northwoods Lake News

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The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) introduced a program on selected lakes this past summer called “Kids Don’t Float”. The DNR hopes to replicate the successful life jacket program started in Homer, Alaska, in 1996 to combat that state’s high rate of child and youth drownings.

Alaska started the program with several boat landings stations where life jackets were available to be borrowed at no cost and re-turned after use. Today, Alaska has more than 500 loaner stations statewide.
“This program is all about keeping everyone—especially kids—safe while out enjoying Wisconsin’s many rivers and lakes,” says Chuck Horn, the DNR acting boat law administrator and former conservation warden heading the effort. “There are cases when people launch the boat thinking they have a life jacket for each passenger, and they don’t. This program will help ensure all in the boat will have one, as the law requires.”

The U. S. Coast Guard and Wisconsin law require a boater to carry one wearable life jacket, also known as a PDF (personal floatation device), for every passenger on board, including the operator. Boats that are 16 feet and longer must have a throwable type PDF—such as a ring buoy or Type IV cushion. The cushion must be square and have handles on the side.

“This is definitely an honor program. If you need a jacket, take one before you launch and simply return it to the station once you’re off the water.” Horn says the DNR will provide the plans and materials for the loaner station along with a starter supply of loaner jackets. ”And, the program would gladly accept donated life jackets. If the pilot grows into a pro-gram, the jackets will be needed.”

In the Phelps area, a loaner station was set-up at the North Twin Lake boat launch last spring. The station was constructed by students from the Phelps School under the direction of teacher Andy Richards.
The loaner stations seem to be working well. Early concerns about life jackets being stolen have not occurred. Most stations have more PDFs at the end of the boating season be-cause of the kindness and generosity of boaters and sportsmen.
Vilas County



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Bobbie Kocim,
Nov 18, 2010, 7:22 PM
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Bobbie Kocim,
Nov 4, 2010, 4:21 PM