Life jacket stations aimed at improving boater safety - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Life jacket stations aimed at improving boater safety

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LODI (WKOW)-- Summertime means a lot of people hitting the water and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wants boaters to stay safe and make sure to wear life vests.

In 2012 there were 23 boating fatalities in the state and 15 of the victims drown- none of them had a life jacket on.

“As a law enforcement officer out here on the water, one of the more common violations we encounter is boaters not having enough life jackets,” said DNR Warden Ryan Volenberg.

So Volenberg partnered with The Grade Boat Club to build life jacket stations at area boat landings. It's part of a federal water safety initiate called Kids Don't Float.

“Its part of our club's mission, we're interested in navigational safety on Lake Wisconsin and the Wisconsin River area,” said Michael Keller, the vice president of The Grade Boat Club.

Keller and other members of the club built the four new stations, with help from the Wisconsin River Lions Club and Lodi Boy Scouts. Boaters can borrow the life jackets free of charge and return them at the end of the day.

“If somebody shows up at the landing and they forget their life jackets or they have some people show up and they don't have enough life jackets, that they'll take the time to grab a couple out of here and make sure they have the right type, the right size,” Volenberg said.

The inside of each life jacket tells you how much weight it can hold. And it's important that everyone on board has a jacket that fits properly.

“A lot of times what we see is the life jacket that's on board for a child is for an adult,” Volenberg said. “And that's just as dangerous if not more dangerous than a life jacket's too small.”

Each Station has 32 jackets, ranging in size from infant to extra large. By making the jackets accessible, the DNR and boat club hope to save lives

“It's a chance to do something where we can turn back and say we really accomplished something here,” Keller said.

The new life jacket stations are located at the Whalen's Grade, Okee, sunset bay and Dekorra boat landings. There are a total of 45 Kids Don't Float sites across the state.

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