Life jackets recommended for holiday fun in the water

Memorial Day weekend traditionally marks the beginning of the summer recreation season, drawing boaters and swimmers to Sacramento region waterways.

With that in mind, public safety officials are urging people recreating in area rivers, lakes and streams to wear life jackets. Even though the river flow is low this year, they stress that strong currents exist below the surface and the water is cold.

The American River Parkway Foundation announced this week that is taking on the responsibility of purchasing and supplying life vests for Kids Don’t Float, a program that lends life vests to children during the summer months at seven access points along the American River.

The Kids Don’t Float program was initiated in 2003 by Sacramento County and its Emergency Medical Services Agency. Since then, the program has provided more than 2,000 new life vests annually to stock river access stations. Due to ongoing budget cuts, however, the county recently discontinued funding for the program, leading the American River Parkway Foundation to assume responsibility.

The foundation, a nonprofit agency, manages volunteer and donor programs to help preserve and maintain the 23-mile stretch of the parkway from the confluence of the Sacramento and American rivers to the Nimbus Fish Hatchery.

The life vest stations will be re-supplied and inspected twice a week from Memorial Day through Labor Day by the Drowning and Accident Rescue Team, and Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District. Life jacket stations include two sites at Discovery Park, Ancil Hoffman Park, Howe Avenue river access, Watt Avenue river access, River Bend Park and the Sunrise river access. Life jackets should be returned to the appropriate stations at the end of the day so other people can use them. Each station will offer ten to 15 life vests in various sizes.

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