Get your free life jackets now

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 18, 2004

Special to the News-Herald

Free life jackets – seriously!

Right now – today!


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BoatUS Foundation is looking for organizations and businesses, such as marinas or launch sites, right here in Suffolk, Smithfield and Franklin to establish a free life jacket-lending service. The search is on to establish 40 new sites throughout the country. Based on the latest information

from the group, there are over 300 loaner sites established all over the United States.

Here’s the deal: through the incredible generosity of the 535,000 members of the BoatUS Foundation programs are being established for children all over the country. The plan is actually quite simple. BoatUS will give an organization, once approved, 12 life jackets. They will also provide all the tools and signs needed to set up a program, which loans jackets for up to a week. It’s easy, fun and most of all free!

Why did the foundation establish this program? There are many goals, however I believe the most important is education. The group wants boaters of all ages to fully understand the importance of wearing the correct size of life jacket. You don’t want a day on the Nansemond River spoiled because a family member left their life jacket in the garage.

According to their Web site, &uot;The BoatU.S. Foundation is a national 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting safe and environmentally sensitive boating. The foundation’s goal is to be the leader in boating safety and environmental education and outreach, with the purpose of reducing accidents and fatalities, increasing stewardship of our waterways, and keeping boating a safe, accessible, and enjoyable pastime.&uot;

The foundation first started its Life Jacket Loaner Program for Kids in 1997. Each year the program has grown and grown, loaning over 10,000 life jackets in only the past five years!

A quick check indicates that the closest center currently is: Portsmouth Boating Center 1244 Bay St. Portsmouth, Va.

23704 (397-2092).

With the growth of boating in Suffolk we need one here. Want more information? Check out:

Until next week…Boat Safe….Boat Smart!