Lifejackets restocked at waterfront recreation areas in Fairbanks
Lifejackets, also referred to as personal flotation devices (PFDs) can be found at many popular waterfront locations in Fairbanks, including Graehl Park, Tanana Lakes Recreation Area, the Chena River Wayside boat launch, and Pike’s Landing.
On Wednesday, the jackets at these locations were re-stocked for the summer, donated by the Dish Cares program through Microcom Communication Solutions to Fairbanks Safe Kids, a national program which is led in the city by Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, as part of their “Kids Don’t Float” program.
“Nine out of ten people who drown were not wearing a lifejacket of some sort,” says Angela Adams, the Fairbanks Safe Kids Coalition Coordinator. “It is our goal through injury prevention to try to have different loaner stations provided around waterways here in Fairbanks.” She says that they are restocking these jackets in time for the 4th of July weekend.
The subject of water safety has surfaced frequently over the last few months in Fairbanks. During spring breakup, several incidents along waterways in the interior have resulted in rescue efforts, search efforts, and even death. Recently, heavy summer rains have contributed to flooding in many areas of the Alaskan interior.
Several warnings from law enforcement, the weather service, and city officials have also been issued regarding flooding and hazardous conditions within the same timeframe.
Adams says that there are times when going into the water should be avoided, however, she adds that a lifejacket is always recommended if going in. "Be aware of the water levels,” she says. “It isn’t recommended that people are out on the rivers and the lakes when the water levels are this high.”
“[The] State of Alaska requires that children under the age of 13, when they’re in a boat in the water, have to have a lifejacket on,” Adams adds. However, she recommends that even children playing at or near the water wear a lifejacket, as many drownings can happen near shore.
Additionally, factors such as cold temperatures or rough waters can even make it difficult for experienced swimmers to navigate the water safely, she says.
This is the reason behind Kids Don't Float.
“We ask for people to look for the loaner stations whenever they’re going to go boating, whether it’s a river access, a pond access, or a lake,” Adams says.
The lifejackets come in multiple sizes, suitable for young children as well as infants.