The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District park rangers and staff at Dale Hollow Lake are continuing to help keep kids and adults safe while recreating at area lakes and on the water by participating in the Boat US Foundation Life Jacket Loaner Program for kids!
Dale Hollow Lake is a participant in the Boat US Foundation and received grants to replenish Life Jackets for the Loaner Program at four locations: Lillydale, Willow Grove, Dale Hollow and Obey River campgrounds and Pleasant Grove recreation areas.
Park Ranger Sondra Carmen said this is a great program for the public and it helps save lives. As an outreach program, rangers promote the free life jacket loaners along with water safety programs and incorporate this as a part of the staff’s overall water safety outreach.
“I’m proud of the job our staff does,” said Carmen. “Every person in the Upper Cumberland area can reach a river, lake or stream that is in close proximity to their home or within their daily travel so it is critical that they are aware of how to stay safe around water.”
According to Alanna Keating, outreach manager, Boat US Foundation, Boat US Life Jacket Loaner Program partnered with Dale Hollow in 2006 with a grant award for Obey River and Lillydale campgrounds. As popularity of the program grew, additional grants were received for Dale Hollow Dam campground, Willow Grove campground and Pleasant Grove Day Use Area.
“Sondra and the staff at Dale Hollow Lake are fantastic to work with,” said Keating. “Each year the demand for free life jackets has increased and in 2014, additional infant, child, and adult loaner life jackets were included at the loaner program sites to accommodate users,” she added.
Carmen said the grant program is made possible by the Boat US Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water and allows boaters and swimmers to borrow a life jacket for the day or the weekend for free. Each grant site receives a tub of 12 life jackets that will fit infant, child and youth sizes. In 2014, teen and adult jackets were included.
“The life jacket loaner program is just one tool we share with our visitors,” said Carmen. During the past 12 months one person has drowned at Dale Hollow Lake and the individual may have survived had they been wearing a life jacket,” she added.
According to Keating, Boating Safety and Clean Water is an innovative leader promoting safe, clean and responsible boating and provides educational outreach directly to boaters and supports partner organizations nationwide.
Carmen said the Life Jacket Loaner Program works if a boating family needs or discovers they don’t have enough properly-fitting children’s life jackets on board, they can simply visit the registration center and sign for a loaner infant, child, or youth jacket for the day or the weekend. When they’re finished boating for the day, they can return the jackets to the same location.
“With millions of people visiting Dale Hollow Lake, our focus is to increase stewardship on safety and keep boating safe and fun,” said Carmen. “Obey River recreational area is the busiest and most easily accessed of the five major recreations areas we operate, she added.”
Throughout the year Carmen also educates second graders from the Putnam County School System who participate in the YMCA Learn-to-Swim program at the Putnam County Family YMCA in Cookeville. She said it is important for youth throughout the region to know how to swim and believes it is proactive to teach them water safety, how to use life jackets, and how to recreate in a safe environment.
Carmen said, in this program, students learn four major points and then are encouraged to share the knowledge they have learned to other friends and family members. The four points include: learn to swim and learn to swim well; swim with a buddy; wear your life jacket that is; Coast Guard approved. Students demonstrate what a proper life saving device is a proper life saving device—one that they would trust their life with and they receive instructions on how to properly fit a life jacket. Students are encouraged to share what they have learned in order to solidify and remember it and to possibly save the life of another by sharing this important message. .
“The Life Jacket program is tailored for youth and families who are recreating and discover they need a properly fitted life jacket,” said Carmen. “I believe we can educate youth, teens and adults on how to use life jackets by promoting water safety. By encouraging visitors to learn to swim early, they will become better swimmers that have confidence, and endurance.
According to Carmen, this is a needed and utilized service. Since initiation of the program in 2006, 2,000 free life jackets have been loaned.
Carmen said she believes every parent wants to make sure his or her child is as safe as possible, but that goes double for parents who take their kids on the water.
“Being safe while boating is always a priority because there is the possibility of making a mistake which could lead to drowning, or injury and that’s what we are trying to prevent,” said Carmen.
It is easier for boating families to stay safe with the Boat US Nationwide Life Jacket Loaner Program of which Dale Hollow Lake is a proud participant.
Keating said around the country, over 550 marinas, fuel docks, Boat US Towing Operators, Army Corp recreation sites and other waterfront businesses lend out kids’ life jackets for the day or weekend to families who have a temporary need for one. According to the Boat US website, the program began distributing kits to sites across the nation in 1997 and has been growing ever since. As of 2014, there are over 500 loaner sites nationwide.
Keating said one of the program’s goals is to teach young boaters on the significance of wearing the appropriate size and type of life jacket while boating.
“It is a good backup system when a family forgets a life jacket or has an unexpected visitor on the water,” said Keating.
The program is funded by donations from the more than half a million members of BoatUS and the general public.
Carmen said, Dale Hollow Lake hosted 2.6 million visitors last year and Park Rangers and Attendants will help educate visitors about wearing the proper life jacket.
Lake Cumberland, Lake Barkley, Old Hickory, J. Percy Priest, Cheatham, Center Hill, Dale Hollow, Martin’s Fork and Cordell Hull have life jacket loaner programs in place while Laurel River Dam is planning to initiate one there.
If you need to borrow a jacket, simply stop by Dale Hollow Dam, Lillydale, Obey River or Willow Grove campgrounds and Pleasant Grove Recreation area during the registration center hours of operation. You may contact the Resource Managers Office at (931) 243-3136 to learn more about Dale Hollow Lakes participation in the program.
To learn more about the national effort to put kids in life jackets to guarantee their safety, visit http://www.boatus.com/foundation. To learn more about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or Dale Hollow Lake, visit http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/Locations/Lakes/DaleHollowLake/Campgrounds/DaleHollowDam.aspx, https://www.facebook.com/dalehollowlake, and http://www.boatus.org/life-jacket-loaner/apply.asp