Saving lives on the water

Darrell Cole
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Red Cross offers PFD lending service

Jamie Steele of the Canadian Red Cross’ Amherst Service Centre stands with Buckles, the society’s personal flotation device mascot. The service centre is offering a PFD lending service that makes sure there’s no excuse for not wearing a personal flotation device. 

AMHERST – Some day a personal flotation device could save your life.

The Canadian Red Cross’ Amherst Service Centre is offering a service that makes sure there’s no excuse for not wearing a PFD on a boating excursion this summer, or even vacationing at the shore.

“Personal flotation devices are not worn in 90 per cent of the drownings in Canada. The numbers are improving, but it’s still happening too much,” Jamie Steele said.

The Red Cross has been a leader in water safety programs in Canada for more than 50 years and has been an international leader in drowning research.

Personal flotation devices are designed to keep you afloat in the water. They are for non-commercial boating and other recreational uses and can be designed for specific purposes to improve safety, flexibility and comfort.

“In a lot of cases Atlantic Canadians may only have an occasional or one-time need for a PFD, such as a summer family or group outing. That could make the cost of buying a PFD prohibitive,” Steele said. “The Red Cross has a lending program that allows for the temporary lending of PFDs and lifejackets.”

A token donation is suggested for the use of the service since it makes it affordable for all and covers maintenance, cleaning and storage costs.

PFDs are required for boating, but Steele sometimes extra people may want to come along on a boating excursion. Instead of risking breaking the law or worse, Steele suggests people contact the Amherst service centre at 667-8794 to borrow enough PFDs to make sure everyone can have a safe experience.

Steele said the centre has PFDs in all sizes from infant to adult.

The program has been running in Amherst for three years.

Steele said PFDs are not just for weak swimmers, non-swimmers or children because in most drowning cases the victims didn’t intend to end up in the water. Injuries, disorientation or cold-water shock are some of the reasons why even a strong, experienced swimmer can be in danger without a PFD.

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Organizations: Red Cross, Amherst Service Centre

Geographic location: AMHERST, Canada

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