DNR works to prevent drowning-related deaths with free life jackets
CLARK COUNTY (WAOW) -
It's the unofficial start to summer this Memorial Day Weekend, and as boaters hit the water, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources stressed safety.
Officials said 17 people drowned in boating-related accidents in Wisconsin last year. They say almost all could have been prevented.
The DNR is working to prevent drownings this weekend. They said their plan is to offer free life jackets at several locations.
"My daughter was jet-skiing yesterday, and they borrowed some while they were on the jet skis so it is real nice that they are there," said Mark Hanson, a boater at Lake Arbutus.
Before Hanson hit the water, he made sure his family was safe by borrowing some of the DNR's life jackets.
"In a swimming pool the side is right there. In a lake the side is not so close. They can't get back to shore, so they need to wear them," said Hanson.
Ralph Johnson said he came up with the life-saving idea while on a trip to Alaska. Johnson said he saw signs that read, "Kids Don't Float." The signs were covered in life jackets for anyone to use.
"Yesterday, I stopped here, and there were eight life jackets that were being used. Today, there are five being used already, so its working," said Johnson.
Johnson said he presented his idea to the Lake Arbutus Association. They contacted the DNR. The department liked the idea, and financially backed the project.
"Maybe they decide to have someone get on the boat, and they didn't prepare to have that number of life jackets, so this way if somebody forgot or they don't have one, they can borrow it and return it at the end of the day," said Shaun Deeney, DNR conservation warden.
Officials said there hasn't been any drownings at Lake Arbutus so far, and this program works to keep that perfect record.