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Life jacket cabinets open for Memorial Day

The programs offers free day-use of life jackets at various locations throughout Snohomish County


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Whether you are boating or swimming, the use of a properly fitting life jacket is a vital part of keeping safe.

Drowning is the second highest cause of unintentional death for children ages 1 to 4 and 10 to 19. More people drown between the months of May and June than any other month.

Even a near-drowning can have lifelong consequences. Kids who survive a near-drowning may sustain life altering brain damage. After four to six minutes under water, the damage is usually irreversible. Although 90 percent of parents say they supervise their children, many acknowledge that they engage in other distracting activities at the same time - talking, eating, reading or taking care of another child.

"Kids drown quickly and quietly," said Shawneri Guzman, Coordinator of Safe Kids Snohomish County. "A drowning child cannot cry or shout for help. The most important precaution for parents is active supervision. Simply being near your child is not necessarily supervising."

To help keep kids safe this season, Safe Kids Snohomish County recommends these precautions: 

nActively supervise children in and around water. Don't leave, even for a moment. Stay where you can see, hear and reach kids in water. Avoid talking on the phone, preparing a meal, reading and other distractions.

nAlways use a Coast Guard approved life jacket if you will be in a boat or in the water. Life jacket size/weight must be correct and it must fit snugly. When arms are lifted above head, the life jacket should not lift up to the chin. All jacket straps, zippers and ties must be fastened and working properly.

nEnroll your kids in swimming lessons after age 1, but don't assume swimming lessons make your child immune to drowning. There is no substitute for active supervision, even the strongest swimmer can drown.

• Don't rely on inflatable swim toys such as "water wings," swim noodles or inner tubes.

nWater can be very cold this time of year. The weather outside might be in the 80's but the water may be 40 degrees or lower. Cold water can lead to hypothermia, where the body's core temperature drops, leading to death and cold incapacitation, where the body's attempt to maintain its core temperature reduces blood flow to the hands and feet, limiting a person's ability to self-rescue.

• Rivers are unpredictable and should be avoided. Swim only at designated swim beaches in the county.

• Call 911 for help immediately. Know your location. Start CPR.

Life Jacket Loaner Cabinets

Safe Kids Snohomish County's life jacket loaner program currently consists of free day-use life jackets at various locations throughout the county. The cabinets are open and available for both kids and adults from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day. The official opening day is Friday, May 26.

Life jackets are checked out and must be returned by the end of each day. Directions on each cabinet explain how to size and fit your child. This service is provided in partnership with Snohomish County Parks, city parks [Everett, Monroe], Snohomish County Sheriff's Office and participating fire/EMS agencies. For a complete list, including other locations in the state, visit

Donate new or gently used life jackets to your local fire station in care of Safe Kids and help keep kids safe this summer. 

Life jackets do not replace the need for supervision.

It is the direct responsibility of each adult caregiver to ensure the safety of the children in their care. A child should never be unsupervised in or near water.

This is a volunteer-based community service and guarantee of life jacket availability varies.

For more information about summer safety, go to the website at


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