Water safety task force adding life jacket loaner boards - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Water safety task force adding life jacket loaner boards


Eau Claire Co. (WQOW) - Just like wearing a seat belt when you ride in a car, wearing your life vest on a boat is key to staying safe on the water. Wednesday, a new project will launch at two local boat landings.

The Altoona and Riverview boat landings will be home to the first life jacket loaner boards to be offered in Eau Claire County. It's all part of an effort by the newly formed water safety task force which is made up of fifteen local agencies, including the Eau Claire Fire Department and DNR.

The boards were actually paid for by a grant the DNR applied for.  Each of the loaner boards is worth about $1,500 and supplies 36 life vests. Jacob Padilla, with Altoona Boy Scout Troop 90, has been putting the boards together for a couple of months now and gave WQOW News 18 a look Tuesday.

Boy Scout, Jacob Padilla, says, "The idea behind this is that if a family or a group of people go to the lake and they don't  have enough life jackets for everybody they can grab one."

Eau Claire Fire Department Inspector, Mike Laska, says, "We've looked at the old records and 21 people have drown basically in the city of Eau Claire alone, that the PD has done research on, let alone Eau Claire County as a whole and we want to change that. We want to get to zero deaths."

The use of the vests will be based on a honor system. The Eau Claire Fire Department says there are a few other life jacket loaner boards in the state. A similar project has been done in Alaska and it's been so successful there, the state has a total of 600.

The fire department also told WQOW News 18 the Regional Trauma Council made their own private donation and will be adding a third loaner board on the beach at lake Altoona.

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