Safe Kids Greater South Haven Installs Life Jacket Loaner Station at Van Buren State Park
A new life jacket loaner station is now in place at Van Buren State Park. The new station, organized and sponsored by Safe Kids Greater South Haven Coalition, provides lifejackets at no cost to those using the beach for the day. Sizes vary from infant to oversized adult.
“Having Lake Michigan is such a treasure for our community and for those visiting from out-of-town,” says Pam Ford, Safe Kids Greater South Haven Coordinator. “We want to make sure everyone who uses the water is safe.” The concept behind the loaner station is simple. Beachgoers who don’t have a life jacket or forgot to bring a life jacket can select one from the loaner station, use it while playing in the water, then return it to the loaner station when not in use.
“We hope that this donation will curb drownings on Lake Michigan,” says Ford. “According to our partners at the Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium, Lake Michigan has the highest number of drowning deaths among the five great lakes. As of the end of August 2019, there have been 76 Great Lakes drownings, 36 of which were in Lake Michigan.”
Safe Kids Greater South Haven worked with volunteer Deegan Boyles, who built the loaner station for his Eagle Scout Project in memory of his grandfather. Van Buren State Park Supervisor, Kurt Maxwell, helped identify a location that sees a lot of foot traffic and made arrangements for the installation. The loaner station and life jackets will be stored during the winter, and returned in the spring.
Established in 2018, the Safe Kids Greater South Haven coalition identified water safety as one of the top areas of focus for the community. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children ages 1-4 and the second cause of death in children under age 15.
Safe Kids Greater South Haven is led by Bronson South Haven and funded through the Bronson Health Foundation.
Pictured: Kurt Maxwell, Van Buren State Park supervisor; Deegan Boyles, loaner station builder; Pam Ford, Safe Kids Greater South Haven Coordinator