OUTDOORS & RECREATION

Over 900 loaner life jackets donated to Utah lakes and reservoirs

May 22, 2024, 5:49 PM | Updated: 7:22 pm

HIDEOUT, Wasatch County — With the Memorial Day weekend coming, many families will head to lakes and reservoirs to play in the water. That’s why Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital is donating 900 life jackets to Life Jacket Loaner Stations throughout the state.

On Wednesday morning, a ceremony was held at Jordanelle Reservoir to kick off the effort.

Dr. Wing Province, the chief medical officer at Intermountain Park City Hospital, said drowning is the second leading cause of preventable injury death among Utah children under fourteen.

He also said most of those deaths happen from May through August.

The idea behind the loaner jackets is for anyone who needs one to borrow one from the loaner station, and then return them after using them.

A Life Jacket Loaner Station at the Jordanelle Reservoir.

A Life Jacket Loaner Station at the Jordanelle Reservoir. (Eddie Collins, KSL TV)

Danielle Bradshaw wishes there was a loaner life jacket station back in 2022 at Blackridge Reservoir in Herriman.

“It was like any other normal June afternoon,” she said. “Except my life could have just ended.”

Bradshaw almost drowned that day after the small boat she was in with her two kids tipped over.

She was able to swim with a kid in each arm back to shore before collapsing in the water with full cardiac arrest.

“Luckily, at the reservoir that day, there was an off-duty police officer who was able to administer CPR and able to revive me,” she said.

Danielle Bradshaw with the rest of her family.

Danielle Bradshaw with the rest of her family. (Eddie Collins, KSL TV)

It is a moment Bradshaw spoke about during the ceremony at Jordanelle Reservoir because she is the first to admit she was not wearing a life jacket.

“It is not something we were expecting to have happened that day,” Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw is doing great now, but she felt strongly enough to speak about her experience so others would not make the same mistake.

“We want people to realize that we’re not invincible. Things can happen at a moment’s notice. Without a notice,” she said.

Visitors grabbing life jackets at the loaner station.

Visitors grabbing life jackets at the loaner station. (Eddie Collins, KSL TV)

According to the Utah Department of Health and Human Services, about a third of drownings happen in lakes, rivers, canals, and other bodies of water.

Doctors say most of those drownings could have been prevented if a life jacket had been worn.

“The goals for the life jacket loaner program are to make life jackets more available and increase the wearing of life jackets during water-based activities,” said Karlee Kump, community health manager at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital.

Life Jacket Loaner Stations are located in areas such as Lincoln Beach, Vineyard Beach, Lindon Marina, and other bodies of water throughout Utah.

“We get a little bit numb to the fact that water is so dangerous. We come out and we recreate, and we have a great time, and we forget a little bit that it’s not if, it’s when, and we need to keep in the front of our mind just that drowning is always preventable,” said McKell Christensen, who is with Utah’s Drowning Prevention Coalition.

Here are some water safety tips from Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital:

  • Appoint a dedicated “water watcher” to supervise children.
  • Empty and invert kiddie pools and buckets when not in use.
  • Ensure the entire family learns to swim.
  • Prefer Coast Guard-approved life jackets over water wings.
  • Secure pools and hot tubs with self-closing gates.
  • Teach children to avoid water bodies while hiking or camping.
  • Immediately check water areas if a child goes missing.
  • Call 911 if a child falls into rushing water and avoid jumping in.

Additional safety guidelines for recreational water activities include:

  • Always use a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Supervise children and teens, even if they are good swimmers.
  • Avoid solo swimming.
  • Be aware of the cold temperatures in lakes, which can cause cramps, shock, and hypothermia.
  • In emergencies, throw a flotation device and call for help rather than diving in.
  • Refrain from swimming under the influence of alcohol.

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Over 900 loaner life jackets donated to Utah lakes and reservoirs