Alaska 529 & Alaska Boating Safety to supply flotation devices across the state

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 5:33 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - A collaboration between Alaska 529 and the Alaska Boating Safety Program will supply personal flotation devices across the State of Alaska.

According to Lael Oldmixon, Executive Director for Alaska 529, they reached out to the Alaska Boating Safety Program with the idea. Oldmixon explained, “We had an employee who reached out to Boating Safety and said, ‘Hey we have this idea. We’d like to see if you’re interested in having us purchase the personal flotation devices for those loaner boards.’ Boating Safety thought it was a terrific idea. They were as excited as we were, and we have over the last several months been putting the pieces in place including the new loaner board sign which has the phrase ‘Use Your PFD Wisely’ on it. It also has little statements on it that say ‘PFD, Personal Flotation Device, use this when you’re on the water’ and ‘PFD, Permanent Fund Dividend, use this to save for your future education’.

The personal flotation devices are usually requested by communities, and the Alaska Boating Safety Program provides them with the requested amount.

But this year will be a little different according to Oldmixon. “Community organizers contact the State, they contact Boating Safety, and they say ‘We need 50 new PFDs for our loaner stations,’ or ‘We need a hundred or we need a thousand.’ So the Boating Safety program collects all of that information and puts in an order for the personal flotation devices and then ships out those PFDs to each community. Many of the loaner boards are sponsored by local organizers like the Rotarians or the Lions Club or just community volunteers, or even local boat shops will sponsor those stations. So it’s up to the stations to say ‘Hey we need a refresh,’ and then the Boating Safety programs send them their refresh. What’s different this year is that refresh is going to be funded by Alaska 529, and will be one of the larger refreshes they’ve had in a long time.”

Alaska 529 and the Alaska Boating Safety Program will be supplying 6,200 personal flotation devices across 680 locations in the State of Alaska.

“We’re thrilled with the partnership. We’re thrilled that we will be in 680 communities in Alaska. So essentially wherever there’s water, we will be there. Over the course of the summer, folks should keep an eye out for the signs getting updated, and we’re also thrilled that we’re able to fund over 6,200 personal flotation devices for Alaska youth that will help to keep them safe and secure as they recreate on Alaska’s waterways,” Oldmixon said.

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