The Chestermere Rotary Club is taking precautionary measures to ensure there are no tragedies this summer with the life jacket loaner station.
“The purpose of [the life jacket loaner station] is that people who come to the beach sometimes don’t come prepared with any type of safety device,” Rotarian Karen McKee said.
The life jacket loaner station is in collaboration with the Lifesaving Society of Alberta and has approximately 14 donated life jackets from young children sizes to adult sizes that can be used freely until September.
Beach goers can take a life jacket as they require it, but are asked to return the jacket back to the bulletin board on the beach when finished, Lead Hand of Chestermere Parks Department Alison Ciupa said.
Around 6:30 p.m. the life jackets that are not in use are taken and put into storage by Chestermere city workers and brought back to the beach in the early morning the next day Ciupa added.
The project has been well received by the Chestermere community, McKee said, “How can it be perceived as a bad thing? It gives you the extra level of safety.
“No family wants to come to the beach for a day of fun and have some type of harrowing experience, like a kid almost drowning,” McKee said.
“We want to give peace of mind for parents of young children who may wonder out too far into the water,” McKee added, “Accidents happen in a very short amount of time.”
McKee said she saw a need in the community for added safety precautions after the tragic drowning that occurred the year prior to the life jacket loaner station opening.
“It was a very sad time for our community, if a life jacket was available it would have saved his life,” said McKee.
“People understand that it isn’t a beach where a life guard is present,” said Ciupa.
“People have to use their own caution,” Ciupa added, “those jackets are used all the time, it’s a great program.
“It’s a fabulous idea, to be able to provide the extra safety to people of all ages who come down to the beach,” Ciupa said.
Although the life jacket loaner station has been well received by the community for the last three years, there have been instances where life jackets are stolen from the beach, McKee said.
When life jackets are taken from the beach, the Rotary Club is responsible for purchasing new life jackets with club proceeds that are intended for other expenses, McKee added, she was ready to cry when she found out life jackets had been taken from the loaner station.
“There’s nothing worse than doing a good deed and then having someone steal them.
“When you trust the good will of people, not everyone is going to have good will,” McKee said.
“The honour system is not going to work all the time. We didn’t want to monitor it, we wanted to be able to trust people,” she said.
For additional information or to donate life jackets please visit the Rotary Club of Chestermere website at https://rotarychestermere.org.