MAYFIELD-Those enjoying the summer out on the Great Sacandaga Lake are being reminded that there is a life jacket loaner station located at Wally’s Driftwood Park marina in Mayfield for anyone in need of a vest.
The business shared a post on its Facebook page Wally’s Karp that the station was open to all after a recent drawing on the lake followed by some kayakers overturning, said Lisa Servello, who owns Wally’s with her husband David Servello.
On July 8th Albert Adamkoski Jr., 47, was boating on Sacandaga Lake near Beacon Island when he drowned in the lake trying to save his daughter.
Servello said they were approached by Theresa DaBiere-Craig who lost her 18-year-old son Sean Craig on the Great Sacandaga Lake July 31, 2016.
“Sean was boating alone without a life jacket and that would’ve made a big difference,” she said.
DaBiere-Craig through the Sean Craig Memorial Fund has been working to not only help agencies purchase equipment to be used on the water but also educating the public on best safety practices while out on water.
One of the ways the organization is educating people is through the life jacket station, which typically has around 25 life jackets stocked.
“There are two for dogs,” DaBiere-Craig said.
Other jackets range in size from infants to double extra large. However, she said they caution against using infant life jackets on newborns because their necks are not strong enough should something happen even in the jackets.
There are signs showing people how a jacket should fit.
“So even when you buckle it up you shouldn’t be able to slip out of it,” she said.
But people should also be checking the labels of life jackets because not all jackets support all activities. There are jackets for water-skiing, swimming, tubing and other recreational activities, DaBiere-Craig said.
‘We’re trying to get information out about that,” she said.
She said jackets can range from $20 to hundreds of dollars but the safest jackets are the ones that have the little orange Coast Guard symbols.
The organization is in the process of printing a large poster showing the symbols and what they mean, along with other information.
“The best life jacket is the one you’ll wear,” she said. “In other words any life jacket is better than no life jacket.”
She said things can happen quickly in water and that is when a life jacket can become a life-saving tool.
Everyone should wear a life jacket according to best practices, DaBiere-Craig said.
DaBiere-Craig said the other reason they wanted to make this available to the public is because state law requires a Coast Guard approved life jacket for each person on the vessel, but jackets aren’t one size fits all.
“It’s really not easy to have all the right sizes for every person that comes on your boat,” she said.
DaBiere-Craig said kids under 12 must have a life jacket while on a boat.
“We’re encouraging kids to wear them,” she said. “It’s uncomfortable sometimes. They fight you, but some of the life jackets at the loaner station have superheroes on them, they have Disney characters on them and kids are a little bit more excited to wear something that looks like that.”
She also said it helps to start having children wear life jackets when they are younger too so they’re used to it.
DaBiere-Craig said the organization tries to inspect the life jackets each week and replace them when needed.
Servello said many people have come by over the years to grab a jacket for the day.
“Every year it’s getting more and more used,” she said.
DaBiere-Craig said the life jackets aren’t just for boaters either, but people going to the beach for the day or heading to a pool.
DaBiere-Craig said she’s grateful to the Servello’s for allowing the station to be on their property and available to the public.
Servello said they are happy to participate in things that ensure safety on the lake.
The station was showcased back in May as part of boater safety week, where various agencies and groups discussed the importance of wearing a life jacket and practicing safe boating guidelines.
It was at that event Montgomer County Sheriff Jeff Smith recalled how a boat traveling through a canal on the Mohawk River, while obeying the 15 mph speed limit still caused some kayakers to overturn.
“If those kayakers had not had the proper safety vests, right? We could have had an incident,” Smith had said.
More information on safe boating can be found at https://www.safeboatingcouncil.org/.