Thursday, July 26, 2018

City of Boise stresses the importance of life jacket use at local ponds

Summer is in full swing and many people are floating the Boise River and flocking to local ponds to cool off. 

"Boise is fortunate to have so many opportunities to get out on the water, but accidental drownings claim too many of our kids," said Boise City Councilwoman Holli Woodings. "It’s important that we keep our families safe and follow Idaho law by having the appropriate safety resources, including life jackets, on our rafts, kayaks, paddleboards and other watercraft."

Even though adults are not required to wear their life jacket when boating or using a paddleboard on local ponds, you should have one within reach and wearing it is highly encouraged. 

"We’ve installed two life jacket loaner stations at Quinn’s Pond and Esther Simplot Park that stay stocked throughout the summer," said Doug Holloway, Boise Parks and Recreation director. "People are encouraged to use the personal floatation devices (PFDs) provided as needed and return them to the rack so others can take advantage of this life saving resource when recreating at our local ponds."

Please remember that Idaho Code requires all people using kayaks, paddleboards, rafts and other watercraft to have a PFD with them at all times. In addition, Idaho law states that children 14 years of age and younger are required to wear a life jacket on all watercraft, including paddleboards. 

Signs have been installed at Quinn’s Pond and Esther Simplot Park reminding users about Idaho’s PFD law (see attached photo for example). Educating the public about this state law and the importance of practicing safe water recreation is the main goal of the new signage. 

Families in need of free life jackets can also fill out a form with the Boise Parks and Recreation Department’s Fort Boise team, a process which works much like the department’s youth scholarship program. Once need is determined, City of Boise residents under 18 years of age who qualify will receive a voucher to be fitted for a free life jacket at Idaho River Sports. This program is made possible thanks to a $5,000 donation from St. Luke’s Health System. 

For more information on the free life jacket program, please call 208-608-7680 or visit the Fort Boise Community Center to get a free life jacket for kids who need one.