Water safety program wins award
On June 19th a personal flotation device loan program that was started in Newfoundland has received a national award from the Canadian Red Cross at its annual general meeting in Quebec City
The program, which began three years ago in St. John’s, offers shortterm loans of PFD and lifejackets to families and groups at no cost. The program was so successful in Newfoundland, it is being implemented at Red Cross offices in all of the Atlantic provinces.
“Even though there is a law saying you have to have a PFD in your boat, some people don’t have enough for their group, or they don’t have the right sizes,” said Dan Bedell, director of pubic affairs with Red Cross Atlantic Canada.
“Now, people have the chance to go out on the water without having to invest in new PFDs that they might never use again, and without risking their safety.”
The initiative was first launched in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2008, with a large donation from well-known businessman and Carbonear native Ches Penney.
Since then, the Red Cross has loaned out several thousand PFDs to school groups, office groups and families. The program has been especially popular with families who have young children.
“ To work properly, the PFD has to be properly fitted,” Bedell explained. “Many of our lifejackets are for children and youths because they grow so fast, families have different needs from year-to-year.”
PFDs are a vital tool in preventing drowning.
“Statistics show that in well over 90 per cent of cases that when people drown, they weren’t wearing their PFD,” Bedell said. “ They do save lives.”