Gerola: Coast Guard-approved life jackets needed at pools, lakes

Coast Guard-approved life jackets are an important component of water safety and drowning prevention for everyone. They are designed to keep your head above water and help you remain in a position which permits proper breathing.

Tina Gerola

Inflatable items such as arm floaties and waist rings are toys and should not be used as a safety device. Anything you purchase in or near the toy section and have to blow up is just a toy.

The misconception that life jackets are only for boating and water sports, and are only for small children, can lead to unimaginable tragedy. Proper-fitting life jackets must be worn by small children when they are in or around the swimming pool and any open water, and by everyone when on a boat or other water vessel.

Life jackets vary by weight, age and water activity. It’s important that your life jacket fits your needs and that you follow manufacturer recommendations.

Superstition Fire and Medical District urges pool owners to practice water safety at all times. Before you strike up the backyard barbecue, strike up a conversation about safety expectations in and around your swimming pool. And while you’re picking up pool supplies, be sure to pick up an extra life jacket or two for visiting children who cannot swim well.

The Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona and the Ryan Thomas Foundation have teamed up with Arizona Game and Fish to provide life jacket loaner stations at various Arizona lakes. This program allows the free use of a Coast Guard-approved life jacket to anyone in need of one for the day. Supplies are limited. For more information on this program and other drowning-prevention efforts, visit www.preventdrownings.org or www.sfmd.az.gov.

Editor’s note: Tina Gerola is the community risk-reduction specialist for the Superstition Fire and Medical District.

Tina Gerola is with the Superstition Fire and Medical District

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