Life jacket cabinet now open at Martha Lake

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A program aimed at preventing drowning by loaning out life jackets free of charge is returning to Martha Lake Park along with other lakes around Snohomish County including Lake Stevens, Marysville, and Silver Lake.

Life jacket loaner cabinets opened on Friday, May 24 at the busy swimming area on the lake’s south end.

This marks nearly 20 years of the program sponsored by Snohomish County Safe Kids in partnership with South County Fire, Snohomish County Sheriff’s office and Snohomish County Parks.

“The goal is to increase life jacket use by making them more accessible. We also want to raise public awareness about water safety,” said Shawneri Guzman, South County Fire Public Educator and Safe Kids President.

Life jackets for children as well as adults are available in the self-serve cabinet for free checkout Memorial Day through Labor Day.  Use is based on the honor system; availability is not guaranteed. The best option is to bring your own properly-fitted jacket, Guzman said.

“This has been a popular program with parents and kids at Martha Lake. It helps save lives and helps make people more aware of the need for life jackets,” she said.

Guzman also wants to make parents more aware of the need for close supervision when children are around water. “We don’t want the life jackets to provide a false sense of security. Parents still need to keep a close watch on their kids,” she said.

Drowning usually occurs quickly and silently. Childhood drowning can happen in a matter of seconds and typically occurs when a child is left unattended or during a brief lapse in supervision.

South County Fire and Safe Kids Snohomish County offer these tips to prevent drowning:

  • Life jackets are not a guarantee of safety.  Always provide close and constant supervision.
  • Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  • Stay within arm’s reach of young children and inexperienced swimmers.
  • Watch all children and teens swimming or playing in or near water, even if they know how to swim.
  • Designate a water watcher when you are in or around water. A water watcher is a responsible adult who agrees to watch the children in and around the water without distractions.
  • In an emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately and begin CPR.

Safe Kids Snohomish County, led by South County Fire, is a local coalition of Safe Kids Worldwide. The group’s mission is to eliminate preventable injuries in children ages 0-19 through education and distribution of safety devices. To learn more visit www.southsnofire.org/education/safe-kids-coalition.

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