New lifejacket loaner station set up at Fuller Lake Park. (Photo submitted)

New lifejacket loaner station set up at Fuller Lake Park. (Photo submitted)

Loaner lifejackets available through the summer at Fuller Lake Park in Chemainus

Range of sizes offered on a first-come, first-served basis

An idea to make lifejackets more available to those who need them that originated in Alberta seemed like a good idea to import to Fuller Lake Park.

Just in time for the first long weekend of the summer, Canada Day, the Municipality of North Cowichan introduced a lifejacket loaner station at the Chemainus park.

“The loaner station has lifejackets in various sizes for visitors to borrow, free of charge, during their visit to Fuller Lake,” noted Jason Blood, North Cowichan’s manager of Recreation. “Users are required to return the lifejackets when done to ensure that all beach visitors have the chance to use them.”

The availability of the loaner lifejackets is intended to increase awareness about water safety at the beach this summer. They’ll be available until the Labour Day long weekend in September.

Blood heard about the program that is broadly supported by Lifesaving Society – Alberta and Alberta Parks.

“My understanding is that they have had this running for a while with great success,” pointed out Don Stewart, North Cowichan’s deputy director of Parks, Forestry and Recreation. “As a result, Jason recommended that we duplicate it at our waterfront park for the 2018 season.

“We essentially duplicated what we would normally have in stock from running Fuller Lake Park as a lifeguarded area for decades in terms of lifejacket numbers and range of sizes. That said, the sign lets people know how to select the right size lifejacket for the user but they are on a first-come, first-serve basis.”

Fuller Lake Park has lifeguards on duty Wednesdays to Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. as well as on the B.C. Day holiday, Monday, Aug. 6. It’s a busy park that features a roped-off swimming area, large grassy area, sandy beachfront, playground, changerooms, outdoor volleyball court and more.

The Canadian Red Cross reports children ages one to four and males ages 15 to 44 are at the greatest risk of drowning. Use of a lifejacket remains one of the best preventative measures along with active supervision.

Before swimming, people are advised to make sure the lifejacket is well-fitted and comfortably snug, Canadian-approved, the label is checked for correct sizing and all straps and zippers are connected.