Wa­ter safety pro­gram wins award

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION - BYMIKA REKAI

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.”

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