County establishes life jacket loaner stations

St Johns County Parks and Recreation personnel will soon be placing “Kids Don’t Float” signs at numerous local boat ramps, with loaner lifejackets provided by Sea Tow Services International, Inc.

Marine Unit Corporal Josh Underwood informed local Historic City News reporters that life jackets save lives and the free lifejacket program, also supported by SeaTow and Parks and Recreation, is designed to help protect young boaters while on the water.

“Be sure all kids on board are wearing a life jacket whenever the boat is moving,” said Captain Christopher B. Hampton; the SeaTow owner and captain in the St. Augustine area for the past thirteen-years.

This is not just sound advice; it’s the law. The U.S. Coast Guard requires that all children under 13 years of age must wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket while the vessel is being operated unless the child is below deck or in an enclosed cabin.

“Kids often complain about having to wear their life jackets on board. Get them invested in theirs by letting them pick it out for themselves,” Captain Hampton suggested. “Be a good role model. If the kids see you wearing your life jacket, they’ll be more likely to wear theirs.”

Children’s life jackets come in sizes appropriate to the child’s body weight. Kids may have outgrown their life jackets over the winter, so it’s important to take the time to make sure it fits. You must have one that fits each child onboard. Infant life jackets have a strap that runs between the legs and extra flotation behind the head to ensure the baby always floats face up.

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