Sheriff’s Office, parks join partners to provide loaned lifejackets for use at Lake Elmo Park Reserve
Washington County Sheriff Dan Starry and county parks Director Sandy Breuer joined partners at Lake Elmo Park Reserve Monday, July 30, to unveil a locker full of child-sized lifejackets that will be available for loaning free of charge to anyone at the park.
The lifejacket loaner station is the result of a partnership between SafeKids, the Sheriff’s Office, Washington County Parks, Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, Region’s Hospital, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The Lake Elmo Rotary and Vali-Hi Drive In donated funds to support the program.
“As a Level I pediatric trauma center and being a part of a local SafeKids Coalition, we are dedicated to reducing the number of unintentional injuries in children from newborn to 19,” said Shonette Doggett, injury prevention program coordinator at Regions Hospital/Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, and a SafeKids coalition coordinator. Drowning is one of the top 10 causes of unintentional injury deaths for not only children, but also adults through age 54.
Sheriff Dan Starry stressed that lifejackets save lives. Using lifejackets, along with following simple rules of adults keeping a constant eye on children when they are around water, as well as learning to swim are all key to water safety, Starry said.
Lake Elmo Swim Pond is visited by more than 25,000 people from Memorial Day to Labor Day, said Parks Director Sandy Breuer. The lifeguards at the park are frequently asked whether lifejackets are available, and now the answer is “yes,” Breuer said. She especially thanked the local businesses that support the program.
Representatives from the Department of Natural Resources demonstrated how to properly fit a lifejacket, which is key to its effectiveness. The lifejackets are stocked in a variety of sizes, and instructions at the locker, which is at the parks concession stand next to the Swim Pond, describe how best to fit a lifejacket on a child.