Life jackets available at Pierce County lakes

Life jackets available at Pierce County lakes
PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. -- The hot weather is bringing out the fun on the water and the danger of drowning. On Friday safety promoters started a new campaign to get life jackets into more hands to save more lives.

It is a perfect day to be out on the water. The sun is out. The temperatures are on the rise. But danger lurks out there.

Already this season we've seen several drownings. In most of the cases a life jacket might have saved a life.

Whether you swim or not, it's the law for those 12 and under to have a life jacket.

"We've had several incidents this summer as late as it is. That's definitely something that all boaters need to be aware of," said parent Dan Hagemeier.

"Because this is what it's all about. Having kids have fun during the summer and yet keeping them safe," said Pierce County council member Barbara Gelman.

And to make sure there's no excuse for forgetting life jackets, a new lending program was just started at two Pierce County lakes, Allan Yorke Park at Lake Tapps and Spanaway Lake.

With a $5,000 grant and help from the shop class at Spanaway Lake High School two new kiosks are up and ready for you to borrow a life jacket.

Safe Kids Pierce County and its lead sponsor, Mary Bridge Children's Hospital & Health Center, are partnering with Central Pierce Fire & Rescue, East Pierce Fire & Rescue, Pierce County Parks and the City of Bonney Lake.

And it's not just for kids. Adult sizes are also available since adults get in trouble, too.

Just a month ago two fishermen nearly drowned on Spanaway Lake when their boat flipped. Off-duty fire fighter Ed Hrivnak was able to get to them just in time.

"He had a life jacket, but it wasn't tied and it went right up over his head," Hrivnak said of one of them. "I was able to reach over and grab him before he went under and spun him around and we were able to get him into the boat."

So on Friday he was glad to see kids and adults taking advantage of the new life jacket lending program making for a fun and safe day on the water.

This has been tried at various places around the state. Sometimes people just take off with the life jackets and don't return them. Sometimes they end up with more than they began with. Either way, it raises the awareness of the importance of life jackets.