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Life jackets will be available at Boise ponds this summer

The partnership helps hundreds of park visitors to recreate safely in and on the water.
Credit: KTVB
Life jackets

BOISE, Idaho — The City of Boise and St. Luke's are teaming up again to get life jackets to children who don't have access to one.

Thanks to a $2,000 donation from St. Luke’s Health System, Boise Parks and Recreation, Boise Fire and Idaho River Sports are partnering to make life jackets available at city swimming ponds and around Esther Simplot Park this summer.

“We are proud to continue this important partnership to make sure children in our community have access to life jackets when they visit our outdoor swimming ponds,” said Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway. “We’re grateful for the support of St. Luke’s, the mayor and Boise City Council, and the Boise Fire Department in this effort.”

St. Luke’s awarded the first grant for life jackets to the City of Boise back in 2017. Since then, the partnership has allowed hundreds of park visitors to recreate safely in and on the water.

Anyone visiting the ponds for recreation can still stop in and be fitted for a state-of-the-art life jacket to use while in the water. Once their visit is complete, they can drop off the life jacket at the shop for cleaning and sanitization so it can then be loaned to another park visitor. 

Officials say this process was very successful last year and they will continue doing the same way in 2021.

“Water safety is up to all of us. It’s important that we always keep an eye on children near water and ensure that those who need life jackets are wearing them, said Boise Fire Chief Mark Niemeyer. “Life jackets help prevent accidents and save lives. We encourage everyone to make it a routine to put on a life jacket before you head out into the water.”

“It’s critical that adults never let their children out of their sight when there’s water around,” said Dr. Kenny Bramwell, St. Luke’s Children’s Executive Medical Director and Emergency Physician. “Having a designated water watcher is vital. Children who are near water, swimming or bathing should always be within sight and hands reach of an adult at all times.”

Even though temperatures will be getting into the 90s this coming week, St. Luke’s Children’s stresses the importance of remembering how cold Idaho water can be, especially this time of year. That can limit a child’s abilities to move their body and swim to safety or wave for help. All life vests, life jackets or personal floatation devices used in bodies of water should be U.S. Coast Guard approved.

“This water complex in the heart of our city is unlike any other in the country, and it’s so important that we continue to provide free and accessible recreation opportunities for our residents,” said Mayor Lauren McLean. “Hand in hand with that access is an important focus on safety, and we are grateful to St. Luke’s for continuing this partnership that has no doubt saved lives.”

As safety protocols continue in light of COVID-19, the life jacket loaner stations at Quinn’s Pond, Esther Simplot Park and the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation Boise Whitewater Park will not be stocked this summer season. Please visit Idaho River Sports before you hit the water to borrow free life jackets for you and your child to use during your visit to the ponds. A variety of U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket sizes are available to borrow from youth to adult. Users should return the jackets to Idaho River Sports so others can use them.