JOHNS ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - South Carolina Department of Natural Resources officials hope you'll be more likely to get caught wearing a life jacket thanks to a new loaner station unveiled Friday at Limehouse Boat Landing in Johns Island.
"Life jacket loaner stations provide people who need them with the greatest single tool we have to prevent accidental drowning: working life jackets," SCDNR Lt. Kim Leverich said.
The program gives boaters who reach a boat landing and realize they do not have enough working life jackets for the people in their boating party to simply borrow one from the loaner board kiosk. They are then asked to return the life jacket when they return from their outing.
Research shows that most drownings could have been prevented if a life jacket had been worn by the victim, DNR officials say.
The kiosk for the loaner boards includes detailed pictures and written instructions for properly fitting and buckling a life jacket on an adult or child in both English and Spanish. Volunteers with the Charleston Sail and Power Squadron will keep the station stocked with life jackets of various sizes for children and adults that can be borrowed while on or around the water and then returned for someone else to use.
The life jacket loaner program is a result of a partnership between SCDNR, the Charleston Sail and Power Squadron and the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission.
Officials say life jacket loaner boards have grown in popularity since they were introduced in the mid-1990s.
SCDNR officials launched a similar life jacket loaner board at Murrell's Inlet in Georgetown County in June. Officials plan to expand the program to eventually cover all heavily-used landings in all of the state's 46 counties.